Criminal Acts, Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, and the Private/Public Split

  • Win-chiat Lee
Part of the AMINTAPHIL: The Philosophical Foundations of Law and Justice book series (AMIN, volume 8)


I argue in this chapter that it may not be reasonable for a person committing a criminal act to expect privacy in relation to the act. This is not because the person’s reasonable expectation of privacy or right to privacy in this case is defeated by some other considerations. My point is that she does not have legitimate interests to be served by having control of access to information in relation to the crime. Nor is there such a thing as a zone of privacy in a fundamental sense that covers her claim to privacy in relation to the criminal act simply because it takes place in that zone. However, I argue that a criminal does have reasonable expectation of privacy in a derivative way because of our concerns about unfettered discretion to be exercised by the government. My skeptical argument echoes some feminist critiques of the right to privacy but does not disparage such a right entirely. I argue that there is nevertheless a gender disparity in the social costs of privacy rights.



I am grateful to the two editors of this volume, Ann Cudd and Mark Navin, for their comments and suggestions for the revision of this chapter. I would also like to thank Deirdre Golash for some very instructive conversations on the subject and her written comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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