The Right to Privacy and the Security of the Person
By: David Matheson
Among the (moral) rights of individuals, some are derivative -- possessed in virtue of possessing other rights -- and others fundamental. On the assumption that the right to privacy is a derivative right, we find ourselves faced with an interesting location project: Where are we to place the right to privacy within the framework of fundamental rights? Which fundamental right or rights is the right to privacy best thought to be a (sub)species of? Building on insights from Warren and Brandeis's classic _Harvard Law Review_ article (1890), I argue that violations of an individual's right to privacy are best understood as violations of her right not to be inter-psychologically battered -- battered in a way that inappropriately alters the relations between the individual's psyche and another's -- and that the right to privacy is therefore ultimately to be located as a (sub)species of the fundamental right to the security of the person. This view, I further argue, has two important consequences: it undermines a wide swath of theories that posit a tight connection between privacy and autonomy (or free choice), and calls into question a well-known deflationary hypothesis about the right to privacy articulated by Judith Jarvis Thomson.
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