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Privacy and Philosophy

New Media and Affective Protocol


Andrew McStay

What can philosophy tell us about privacy? Quite a lot as it turns out. With Privacy and Philosophy: New Media and Affective Protocol Andrew McStay draws on an array of philosophers to offer a refreshingly novel approach to privacy matters. Against the backdrop and scrutiny of Arendt, Aristotle, Bentham, Brentano, Deleuze, Engels, Heidegger, Hume, Husserl, James, Kant, Latour, Locke, Marx, Mill, Plato, Rorty, Ryle, Sartre, Skinner, Spinoza, Whitehead and Wittgenstein, among others, McStay advances a wealth of new ideas and terminology, from affective breaches to zombie media. Theorizing privacy as an affective principle of interaction between human and non-human actors, McStay progresses to make unique arguments on transparency, the publicness of subjectivity, our contemporary techno-social condition and the nature of empathic media in an age of intentional machines.
Reconstructing our most basic assumptions about privacy, this book is a must-read for theoreticians, empirical analysts, students, those contributing to policy and anyone interested in the steering philosophical ideas that inform their own orientation and thinking about privacy.
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Chapter Eleven: Alienation: The value in being public

← 122 | 123 → CHAPTER ELEVEN


Critical theory does not respond well to accounts of autonomy as it has difficulty finding an origin or rationale for its existence. Likewise, Marx (2012 [1844]) was somewhat scathing of the idea that rights could be useful in establishing a political community seeing ‘human rights’ as accentuating an individual’s egoistic preoccupations. Liberal citizenship for Marx is to be self-confined to private interests and caprice, and to be separated from the possibility of real community. Liberalism, interpreted in critical Marxist terms, is an inversion of the border-based dyad referred to in Chapter 2 and privileges self-interest over public contributions. This is based on the observation that in its quest to free citizens from public interference liberalism is a philosophy of individualism and separation, and by arguing for a philosophy of withdrawal the liberal project undermines the possibility of emancipation. Marx’s argument is that real freedom is found in more positive relations with others, i.e. in community. The relationship between Marxism and privacy thus becomes an uncomfortable one. This has two parts to it in connection with both the social problem that Marxism sees and its solution. On the former, does liberal concern about privacy detract from larger exploitative arrangements in political-economy; on the latter, what value does privacy have when there is no need for rights because the interests of the collective are bound together? Marx (1999 [1867]) is clear in Capital that we should not exchange a situation where labor is reified into commodity relations for one where society as...

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