Moral identification in Identity Management Systems

  • Noëmi Manders-Huits
  • Jeroen van den Hoven
Part of the IFIP — The International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT, volume 262)


Identity has become a central theme in modern philosophy. In this paper we are not concerned with the logic and metaphysics of identity, nor with questions of personal identity. We address a part of the ethics of identity in the light of ubiquitous modern technologies of identity management. In many practical contexts it is a ‘forensic’ and ‘biographical’ notion of identity and identification that is often prominent and morally problematic. Persons identify themselves and are identified by others; they present themselves as having certain properties, others scrutinize their self-presentations and form alternative representations of them, either in- or outside formal or administrative systems. Persons are consequently dealt with in legal and administrative contexts (and increasingly also in private spheres) on the basis of formal representations and sets of characteristics or statistical profiles. In this paper we articulate a basic moral justification for constraints on how persons may be represented and identified in identity management systems by explicating Bernard Williams’ suggestion that respect for persons implies a particular form of identification, which we term “moral identification”. Moral identification in this sense implies the identification of a person as someone who engages in self-identification.


Moral Reason Electronic Health Record Objective Representation Identity Management Moral Autonomy 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noëmi Manders-Huits
    • 1
  • Jeroen van den Hoven
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDelft University of TechnologyThe Netherlands

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