privacysecurity - The issue of where to draw the line...

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The issue of where to draw the line between protecting each individual's personal rights and forsaking those rights in the interest of the public good continues to be a central issue in all spheres of political discourse. One poignant example of this is illustrated by contrasting the ideals of individual privacy and the security of the state. Although historical perspectives on this issue are relevant, the importance of how to codify the philosophical underpinnings of the issue seems to grow with time. As our modern world becomes more and more integrated with technology, the value of one's privacy becomes much more vital. What results from all of this is a tenuous balance between the leaving ourselves vulnerable to destruction and destroying that which we seek to preserve. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, two seventeenth-century political writers, present differing positions on the extent to which we ought to value each of the ideals of the rights of a citizen and the security of a state. Hobbes favors an absolutist kind of power of a state over its people. For Hobbes this acts as a bulwark against that which he considers the summum malum or absolute evil—a violent, painful death. Locke posits that instead of protecting the people of a state from this summum malum, the purpose of the state is to ensure the rights of each individual. This pertains directly to protecting the privacy of the individual. Before delving further into the historical arguments for favoring one of these tenets more than the other, we need to more closely examine exactly what we are talking about. Security could be better understood as a sense of safety against that which we fear. Again, for Hobbes this fear was that of a violent, painful death. Hobbes was speaking, however, about a fear of one's political neighbors, and other individuals
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inside the state. This is only a partial consideration, however, because security against one's own government must also be considered. Privacy, our other consideration, could be understood as the condition of being alone or free from public attention; this could be generally considered to be a natural right of the individual. This was an important concept in the seventeenth century, but it has only become more paramount in recent decades due to the acceleration of the transfer and mass use of "private" information. Another preliminary consideration is that this theoretical model could be simplified to a basic sliding scale type of thought experiment. The naïve observer could posit that for every unit of personal privacy forsaken for the purpose of security, the state would get a proportional amount of security in return. This, however, is obviously fallacious/us. One need not necessarily sacrifice privacy to achieve the end of greater security, nor does the sacrifice thereof automatically yield that proportional increase in security. This extrapolation of the issue seems to beg the question of why we are examining these issues in tandem at all. The purpose of the examination is that nation
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course PHIL 105 taught by Professor Lachs during the Spring '08 term at Vanderbilt.

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privacysecurity - The issue of where to draw the line...

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