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A Democratic Conception of Privacy

Abstract : This book is based on my doctoral thesis. Although it is usual to publish one’s thesis first, it was only after publishing On Privacy for Routledge that I also decided to publish my thesis. I have published many academic articles on privacy since 1997, but there are still aspects of my original research on privacy which strike me as novel and which I hope may be helpful to others interested in the philosophy of privacy, although I have left the original references and bibliography as they are. For example, the thesis contains an extended comparison of the personal and political aspects of our interests in privacy and their role in identifying privacy as a distinctive value and justifying it as a distinctive legal right. Although the comparison between our personal and political interests in privacy can be found in my later work, the thesis provides a more sustained discussion of these different aspects of privacy, and of their relationship and importance for a distinctively democratic interpretation of privacy. Likewise, my thesis contains a chapter dedicated to the relationship between women’s claims to privacy and their interests in abortion as well as childbearing. It also contains a discussion of women’s personal and political interests in abortion and of their importance for a democratic commitment to the equality of men and women. While my subsequent publications on privacy extend and deepen ideas which can be found here – relating them to debates over freedom of the press, private property or neuroscience, for instance – there are aspects of my original research which I have not had the opportunity to revisit but which, I hope, may still be of interest to others. I am therefore grateful to the Ernst and Lucie Schmidheiny Foundation for a grant which enabled me to publish my thesis with AuthorHouse. My husband, Dan Grecu, helped to turn a thesis written on a 1990s Mac Plus into a document readable on 21st century computers, and then helped me to prepare this book for publication. Without his help and encouragement, I don’t think I would have been brave enough (or technically capable) of doing so. It is also a great pleasure publicly to acknowledge those who made it possible for me to write the doctoral thesis on which this book is based. In the first place, I would like to thank Colin Matthew, Susan Wood and, above all, John Robertson – all of St. Hugh's College, Oxford. Without their help I doubt that I would have completed my B. A., and am quite sure that I would never have embarked on an academic career. It was a privilege to study History with them. My thanks, as well, to those who supervised, read and helped me to revise my thesis. To Margaret Burnham and Martha Nussbaum I am grateful for their willingness to be on my Committee, and for their helpful comments and perceptive questions, which it would be nice to be able to answer properly someday. Elsa Bardalez and Melissa Williams read, talked through and helped me to rewrite much of this work, as they have with papers, job talks, presentations and proposals before and since. In Joshua Cohen, I suspect, I got something like the Platonic ideal of an advisor. He supervised this project from beginning to end – and, in fact, provoked me into writing on the right to privacy. His work on democratic theory underpins this thesis and at every stage of the project he has helped me to clarify and to improve its arguments. He is a terrific philosopher, great teacher and a wonderful advisor. Finally, I would like to thank the people at Social Studies, Harvard University, and the Department of Political Science at the University of Rochester, NY. Social Studies has been a haven for many graduate students struggling to finish their dissertations, a school where we learned social theory as well as taught it. I would particularly like to thank Judy Vichniac, Pratap Mehta, Glyn Morgan and David Peritz for making my last year there so enjoyable and fulfilling, as well as for their help with my thesis. The Political Science Department at Rochester, NY provided me with genial and supportive colleagues, plenty of laughter and thought-provoking ideas and also, it must be said, the relief of a "proper" job. Their confidence in me made it easier to finish the dissertation, and their generous policy of providing a first term without teaching was invaluable. I am especially grateful to Jim Johnson, who was incredibly generous with his time, ideas, encouragement and jokes. One of the nicest things about finally publishing this book is the chance publicly to thank you all.
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Annabelle Lever. A Democratic Conception of Privacy. AuthorHouse Self Publishing, 2014. ⟨hal-03398924⟩



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