Notes for Some Limits of transparency in the Promoting Intellectual Freedom

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Some Limits of Transparency in Promoting Intellectual Freedom

Introduction: Orientation and Values of "Freedom of Conscience" (FoC) and "Intellectual Freedom" (IF)

  • FoC and IF are associated with:
  • Transparency, secrecy avoidance, free and open discussion (valued intrinsically and extrinsically)
  • In Mill, freedom of thought and discussion are associated with progress and individuality
  • Mill's "experiments in living"
  • The "logic of toleration" in Mill and open societies: Since I ought to count on your tolerance of me and my lifestyle, I ought not to need to conceal my beliefs or lifestyle.
  • But there is a tension between Mill's legacy of transparency and a counter-intuition (captured more in FoC and psychology)that privacy and concealment are a normal and healthy part of development and the cultivation of autonomy.

Using a Theory of Privacy to Probe and Resolve this tension

  • Original theory from "Reconstructing the Right to Privacy" (2003, Social Theory and Practice, with Dr. Randy Mayes, UC Sacramento)
  • In light of 9/11, what is the core moral value of privacy? What aspect of privacy should we least want to surrender?
  • Answer: Privacy as a fundamental moral right involves the right to be able to engage in moral deliberation. Read p. 3-5
  • Odd implications of the original theory.
  • Privacy can be violated in public
  • Successful peeping toms don't violate your privacy.
  • Modifications to the theory for thinking about the tension between IF and privacy or secrecy.
  • 1. IF implicates a broader domain of topics than moral deliberation: "about identity, lifestyle, and culture"
  • 2. Deliberation on these topics is socially embodied. Privacy is not only about isolation and exclusion, but a means of facilitating associations and relational ties with others.
  • In the modified theory privacy is needed to deliberate upon and experience one's identity, lifestyle, and culture"

Can the modified theory of privacy help us see the limits of transparency in IF?

  • Case 1: IF in the development of LGBT community and identity. (Jim Carmichael, "Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression," in Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom)
  • Case 2: Westboro Baptist Church: In light of this theory, no longer a contest between IF (in form of 1st amendment speech) and privacy, but between two aspects of IF (expression and deliberation, IF and FoC)
  • Case 3: Hate speech and the vulnerability of discriminated or oppressed groups.
  • Concluding example: Dutch concept of "gedogen"