The Egoist Case for Privacy

After 8 years of writing, editing, re-writing, editing again, submissions, rejections, more submissions, and subsequent revisions, my article Asking for Facebook Logins: An Egoist Case for Privacy was finally accepted for publication in the Journal of Business Ethics, one of the best business ethics journals.  My first (and probably last) academic article explicitly promoting Objectivism.  It ended up as a tour de force in privacy theory as applied to Objectivist ethics.

Perhaps the best part was the comment from one of the reviewers: “This is one time when I felt like my feedback to the author(s) really helped in some small [way] to evolve the paper. I look forward to seeing the article in print and learning the identify of the author(s) so that I seek them out as fellow researchers/theorists in this area.” Which is true, they did help significantly to make the article better.  I truly appreciate the help they offered and hope they do get in touch.


With the advent of social networking websites, privacy concerns have reached a new high. One particularly problematic concern entails employers requesting login credentials to popular social media platforms. While many people may consider this request unethical, they may not agree on the reasons it is unethical. One reason may be to blame the behavior on egoism. Egoism, however, comes in multiple flavors, not all of which would agree that violating privacy is acceptable. In this paper, we articulate how one egoist perspective provides a defense of privacy in the face of unjust information access requests. Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, offers an egoist approach to ethics that values individual privacy on rational, self-interested grounds. By applying Objectivist principles to a business context, we observe that business people should not violate other people’s privacy for short-term gains. Furthermore, we observe that privacy can be protected without distinct right to privacy. Rather, Objectivism’s conception of rational self-interest suggests that long-term flourishing is the proper end of individuals and businesses, predicated on, among other things, respecting privacy and enforcing individual rights.

Because the article is under copyright owned by Springer, I cannot post it on my site.

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2 Responses

  1. April 21, 2015

    […] past year has been a big research year for me with two publications and another accepted for publication (to come out at a later date).  I also received invitations to revise and resubmit two more […]

  2. March 15, 2018

    […] the approach to one or the other principle gets refined over time.  I talk about this a little in my paper on organizations requesting social media passwords from job candidates. That case was interesting […]