Synthesis and Satisfaction: How Philosophy Scholarship Matters

Anita L. Allen


Privacy and technology clash in the courts. I elaborate the example of Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017), an example from the High Court of India, whose sweeping and inclusive jurisprudential style raises starkly the question of the influence that academic philosophers and other scholars have over how legitimate societal interests in exploiting information technology and protecting personal privacy are “balanced” by the courts. Philosophers will be satisfied to see that their theories are acknowledged in a landmark national decision finding that India’s 1.3 billion people have a constitutional, fundamental right to privacy that constrains a challenged government biometric identification system. Some scholars will appreciate the inclusive definition of privacy, which included decisional privacy, combined with the treatment of privacy as a paramount human good meriting the protection of fundamental rights. But some academic philosophers are potentially disappointed that the Court synthesizes rather than differentiates among their competing theories, concepts, and definitions, and, in the end, relies upon liberal Enlightenment ideals that some scholars have argued are singularly ill-suited for the twenty-first century.

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