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  1. Adam D. Moore

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee364

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Moore, A. D. 2013. Privacy. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


There is little agreement about how to define the term “privacy.” For example, Warren and Brandeis, following Judge Thomas Cooley, called it “the right to be let alone” (Warren and Brandeis 1890: 194). Alan Westin (1967) described privacy in terms of information control. William Parent argued that “privacy is the condition of not having undocumented personal knowledge about one possessed by others” (1983: 269), while Julie Inness defined privacy as “the state of possessing control over a realm of intimate decisions, which include decisions about intimate access, intimate information, and intimate actions” (1992: 140). Privacy is also viewed by many as morally valuable and worthy of protection, while others have viewed it with suspicion. This essay will review each of these areas, including (1) a brief history of privacy, (2) philosophical definitions of privacy along with specific critiques, (3) views about the value of privacy, and (4) general critiques of privacy.


  • autonomy;
  • ethics;
  • human rights;
  • legal and political;
  • politics;
  • practical (applied) ethics;
  • privacy;
  • private;
  • rights;
  • value