chapter  7
32 Pages

Is privacy a legal duty? Reconsidering private right and public virtue in the domain of intimacy

Modern republican political theory has always had an ambivalent relationship to privacy. Most theorists in this tradition insist on the importance of a clear demarcation between public and private. Both Tocqueville and Arendt (the two most important nineteenth-and twentieth-century exemplars) argued that rights which institutionalize and protect the private sphere are a basic precondition for an adequately demarcated and autonomous public sphere. They counter the danger specific to egalitarian forms of republican government, namely, the inherent tendency of public power to expand and to trespass on private interests.1