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Privacy and Philosophy

New Media and Affective Protocol

Series:

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 Thirteen: Whitehead: Privacy events

← 142 | 143 →CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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This chapter develops the logic that underpins affective, systemic, contextual, assemblage-based and intentional accounts of privacy that have been addressed so far in this book. In doing so it indirectly denounces those conceptions of privacy that comprehend it in terms of stocks, reserves, property and colloquialisms such as ‘protecting my privacy’ as this is to use the language of things that have location and extension, thereby falling into a substance-based fallacy. While clearly people do not really see privacy as a material object, the use of such language hides the conceptual fact that privacy is better considered in terms of relations, processes, events, emergence, outcomes, consequences and redefinition. As argued throughout, privacy situations arise through interaction, and the word ‘action’ within ‘interaction’ is something of a giveaway as to the dynamic nature of privacy. In a people-based sense of privacy, we see movement between social contexts or active management in terms of withholding and disclosing. Correspondingly, in an informational sense, privacy is less about a lump of information residing somewhere, than the circulation of information between interacting data managers, users, hardware, applications and other data sets. Unpacking the dynamic approach to privacy, this chapter explicates in greater detail the notion of events in Whiteheadian parlance. It also highlights the emergent nature of privacy that correspondingly connects well with Rorty, Nissenbaum and Latour discussed earlier, who each in their own way see norms as contingent and affective, and that which emerges in reference ← 143 | 144 → to actors, actants and context. This...

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