December 10, 2017


With support from the Carlsberg Foundation, we are proud to announce two keynote speakers for the conference.

Beate Roessler – “Manipulation and Autonomy”

What precisely is worrying about techniques like behavioural or micro-targeting, or personalised communications? These techniques influence our behavior in certain ways and they are manipulative – this is the thesis I argue for. I start by presenting some cases, in order to show the broad spectrum of what we generally call manipulation or manipulative techniques in the online world (from behavioral targeting on Amazon to Cambridge Analytica). I then unwrap the concept of manipulation, and make some conceptual distinctions which can help to understand the different technologies. In a next step, I argue that the harm of manipulation lies in the distortion of autonomous choice, and therefore in the violation or restriction of individual autonomy. In a last, tentative step, I point out that manipulation should be understood and analyzed on the background of a critical theory of surveillance, since it is (consumer’s, social media user’s) surveillance which makes manipulation in the cases discussed possible in the first place.

Beate Roessler is professor of Ethics and its History at the University of Amsterdam; from 2003 to 2010 she also taught as Socrates-Professor for the Foundations of Humanism at Leiden University. She formerly taught philosophy at the Free University, Berlin, Germany, and at the University of Bremen, Germany. In 2003/4 she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin; in November 2011 she was a fellow at the Center for Agency, Value, and Ethics at Macquarie University, Sydney, in 2015 a two-month fellow at the University of Melbourne, Law School, and in the spring of 2017 a research fellow at New York University. She is a co-editor of the European Journal of Philosophy.

Her publications include The Value of Privacy, Polity Press 2005; “New Ways of Thinking about Privacy”, in: Anne Phillips, Bonnie Honig and John Dryzek (eds), Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, Oxford UP 2006; Social Dimensions of Privacy. Interdisciplinary Perspectives (ed. with D.Mokrosinska), Cambridge UP 2015; Von Person zu Person. Zur Moralität persönlicher Beziehungen, (ed. with A. Honneth, Frankfurt 2008); Handbuch der politischen Philosophie und Sozialphilosophie, (edited with Stefan Gosepath and Wilfried Hinsch, Berlin, de Gruyter 2008); “Meaningful Work: Arguments from Autonomy”, in: Journal of Political Philosophy 2012.  She just finished a book Autonomie: ein Versuch über das gelungene Leben (2017 Berlin, Suhrkamp; engl translation forthcomning) and her present research focuses on the Politics of Privacy.


Adam D. Moore – “Privacy, Security, and Surveillance: Big Data and the New Accountability”

Privacy is important, perhaps necessary, for human flourishing or well-being. After sketching an account of privacy along with supporting evidence, I will consider the “new accountability” forced upon individuals by data surveillance. Along the way four prominent information sharing or pro-access arguments will be presented and critiqued. The “Just Trust Us” argument holds that striking the balance between privacy, security, and accountability should be determined by politicians. The “Nothing to Hide” view maintains that only criminals would care if others are watching, while “Security Trumps” holds that accountability and security trump other values like privacy or liberty. Finally, the “Consent Argument” defends the view that individuals have agreed to heightened levels of data surveillance and accountability by freely sharing personal information across various technological platforms. Part of the problem is that individuals fail to properly value privacy and sometimes end up in a “prisoner’s dilemma” race to the bottom. Privacy and limited access is “unraveled” as individuals trade private information or are covertly monitored.

I will argue against each of these “pro-access” views. We simply do not owe each other the level of access that is being foisted upon us. It seems like we have fallen under the spell of a very dubious principle where “can” implies “should.” We can monitor, track, hoard, aggregate, and search ever-increasing amounts of data. We can use big data analytics and predictive software to determine what someone might do or where they might be at some future time. We can use GPS trackers, walking or gate technology, spy cameras, facial recognition tools, and email scanning software to monitor virtually every aspect of our lives. We can march unthinkingly toward a watcher-based society where most of us are information targets – data points to be watched and, yes, controlled. But can does not imply should. Think about what would follow if it did.

We need to stop all of this, take a step back, and ask if this is the sort of world we want to promote. In my view, policy, law, and custom should be deployed to provide a better balance between privacy, accountability, and security. We should resist marching toward a world of the watchers and the watched.

Adam D. Moore is a Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington and examines the ethical, legal, and policy issues surrounding privacy, intellectual property, freedom of speech, accountability, and information control. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Ohio State University (1997) and is the author of Privacy Rights: Moral and Legal Foundations (2010) and Intellectual Property and Information Control (2004).

Professor Moore is the editor of Privacy, Security, and Accountability (2015), Information Ethics: Privacy, Property, and Power (2005), and Intellectual Property: Moral, Legal, and International Dilemmas (1997). Additionally, he has published over 35 articles in journals such as, The American Philosophical Quarterly, Journal of Ethics and Information Technology, San Diego Law Review, Journal of Social Philosophy, The Journal of Value Inquiry, Res Publica, and Public Affairs Quarterly.