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Seybert Lectures: Anita Allen

Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 3:00pm to Friday, April 12, 2019 - 5:00pm

Lecture 1: Thursday, April 11, 3-5pm, Arch 208
Privacy, Personality and the Standing of Art
Which is more important, privacy or art? Personality or commerce?  The answer the law gives is clear: professional art and commerce trump privacy and personality. Arne Svenson is a fine arts photographer exhibiting widely in the US and in Europe. Svenson used a telephoto lens to photograph the people living near him in the Zinc Building in Tribeca. The Zinc Building has a largely glass facade, and each apartment has large windows. Hiding in the shadows of his residence, for about a year Svenson photographed Zinc Building residents without their knowledge. He eventually selected some of the pictures he shot for display. His show “The Neighbors” opened in 2013 at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York. Outraged neighbors sued Svenson for invasion of privacy, but Svenson won. Do privacy values count for so little?  Scottish-born painter Peter Doig was accused of wrongfully denying the authenticity of a painting he insisted he did not paint, to the financial detriment of the work’s.  Doig won the case against him. While victorious, Doig complained that justice was “long overdue” and that the issue that “a living artist has to defend the authorship of his own work should never have come to pass.” There is a moral argument from the importance of dignity and inviolate personality that Doig is correct. Yet, other arguments press in another direction. Don’t market values matter, too?
Lecture 2: Friday, March 12, 3-5pm, Cohen Hall 402
Toward a Philosophy of Privacy
Global human life has gone digital.  In the current period of rapid change, academically trained philosophers should be in the business of identifying conceptual and normative issues created by digital life, and of suggesting good and better ways to address the practical problems such as increased surveillance and reliance upon discriminatory algorithms.  To do this, philosophers will need to forge bold new perspectives for which there may be no obvious or direct grounding in the canonic texts of our discipline.  One of the most widely acknowledged and debated set of questions and concerns generated by digital life relate to privacy or, more broadly, to data protection.  In this lecture I identify the parameters of a comprehensive philosophy of privacy and link its importance to problems emergent in the digital age.