UCL Philosophy


2024 Shearman Lectures - Niko Kolodny - Privacy and its Violation (pt 3)

07 June 2024, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm

Photo of Niko Kolodny

Professor Niko Kolodny (Berkeley) delivers the 2024 Shearman Lectures, hosted by the UCL Philosophy Department.

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UCL Philosophy Department


388: Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
United Kingdom

Lecture 3: Objections and Applications. This third lecture identifies various objections to privacy: countervailing interests that I and others have in your not having privacy—which argue against my owing you a duty of privacy. These objections to privacy give the duties of privacy their final contours. The lecture then asks what the moral framework constructed so far in the lectures implies for the ever-present surveillance of our lives insofar as our lives are linked to the internet or still more the “internet of things.” It considers the puzzle of “inferential laundering,” where, on the one hand, your privacy is not violated if I come to believe that you are G by inferring it from the facts that you are F and that Fs are G, even though, on the other hand, your privacy would be violated if I came to believe that you are G by some more direct route. It considers the puzzle of “publicizing the already public,” where, on the one hand, I do not violate your privacy by making certain information available to everyone in way A, which we are apt to describe as “making the information public,” even though, on the other hand, someone else violates your privacy by making that same information available to certain people (perhaps everyone) in way B. And it suggests that it may be a kind of myth that individually or collectively, we own “our data,” such that another wrongs us, individually or collectively, if they use “our data” without our valid consent. If we have complaints against what Shoshana Zuboff has aptly called “surveillance capitalism,” the lecture suggests, they may be of a different character.

About the Speaker

Professor Niko Kolodny

at UC Berkeley

Professor Niko Kolodny is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His main interests lie in moral and political philosophy.

More about Professor Niko Kolodny