Spring 2020 - PHIL 825 G100

Selected Topics in Social and Political Philosophy (5)


Class Number: 7807

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 4:30 PM – 6:20 PM
    AQ 5009, Burnaby



Selected Topics: Privacy

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 421W.]   

Important note regarding enrollment: All seats are reserved for Philosophy Graduate students. Enrollments from other departments will be considered only upon submission of the Graduate Course Add Form, and with instructor's permission. All such enrollments will be done in or after the first week of classes.

This course will explore philosophical work on ethical and political debates surrounding privacy. Questions discussed will include the following:

•Why might privacy be valuable? If people are harmed by privacy losses, what exactly is the harm?

•How should privacy be weighed against competing values like journalistic freedom, public safety, or government transparency?

•Should public figures be entitled to less privacy than the rest of us?

•Is the subjects’ consent sufficient to ensure that data collection is ethical? What conditions are necessary for meaningful consent to data collection?

•Are some legal approaches to data privacy paternalistic? And is some paternalism appropriate in this area?

•Should the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” be adopted more widely?

•Do we, in some sense, own data that is about us? When others profit from collecting data about us, should we be entitled to share in those benefits?

•Should we have a right to privacy in public spaces, or is it always permissible to record people’s public behavior?


Successful completion of this course will satisfy the “Value Theory Stream" distribution requirement toward the MA degree for Philosophy graduate students.


  • Short Reading Response Assignments and Quality of Participation 15%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Final paper, including a paper proposal and a first draft (3,000-5,000 words) 70%



All readings will be available on Canvas.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html