Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity versus Liberty

James Q. Whitman
The Yale Law Journal
Vol. 113, No. 6 (Apr., 2004), pp. 1151-1221
DOI: 10.2307/4135723
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4135723
Page Count: 71
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity versus Liberty
Preview not available

Abstract

Privacy advocates often like to claim that all modern societies feel the same intuitive need to protect privacy. Yet it is clear that intuitive sensibilities about privacy differ from society to society, even as between the closely kindred societies of the United States and continental Europe. Some of the differences involve questions of everyday behavior, such as whether or not one may appear nude in public. But many involve tha law. In fact, we are in the midst of major legal conflicts between the countries on either side of the Atlantic-conflicts over questions like the protection of consumer data, the use of discovery iin civil procedure, the public exposure of criminal offenders, and more. Clearly the idea that there are as the basis of a universal law of privacy, cannot be right. This Article explores these conflicts, trying to show that European privacy norms are founded on French and German ideas of "personal honor." Continental "privacy," like continental sexual harassment law, prison law, and many other bodies of law, aims to protect the "personal honor" of ordinary French and German folk. American law takes a very different approach, protecting primarily a liberty interest. The Article traces the roots of French and German attitudes over the last couple of centuries, highlighting the French experience of sexual license in the nineteenth century and the German experience of Nazism. The Articlee then discusses the current state of French and German law with regard to matters such as consumer credit reporting, public nudity, and the law of baby names. It contrasts continental approaches to what we find in American law. Throughout, the Article argues, American law shows a far greater sensitivity to intrusions on the part of the state, while continentla law shows a far greater sensitivity to the protection of one's public face. These are not differences that we can understand unless we abandon the approach taken by most privacy advocates, since such differences have little to do with the supposedly universal intuitive needs of "personhood." Instead, they are differences that reflect the constrasting political and social ideals of American and continental law. Indeed, we should broadly reject intuitionism in our legal scholarship, focusing instead on social and political ideals.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
1151
    1151
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1152
    1152
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1153
    1153
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1154
    1154
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1155
    1155
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1156
    1156
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1157
    1157
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1158
    1158
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1159
    1159
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1160
    1160
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1161
    1161
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1162
    1162
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1163
    1163
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1164
    1164
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1165
    1165
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1166
    1166
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1167
    1167
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1168
    1168
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1169
    1169
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1170
    1170
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1171
    1171
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1172
    1172
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1173
    1173
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1174
    1174
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1175
    1175
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1176
    1176
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1177
    1177
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1178
    1178
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1179
    1179
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1180
    1180
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1181
    1181
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1182
    1182
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1183
    1183
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1184
    1184
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1185
    1185
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1186
    1186
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1187
    1187
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1188
    1188
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1189
    1189
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1190
    1190
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1191
    1191
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1192
    1192
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1193
    1193
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1194
    1194
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1195
    1195
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1196
    1196
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1197
    1197
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1198
    1198
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1199
    1199
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1200
    1200
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1201
    1201
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1202
    1202
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1203
    1203
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1204
    1204
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1205
    1205
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1206
    1206
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1207
    1207
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1208
    1208
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1209
    1209
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1210
    1210
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1211
    1211
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1212
    1212
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1213
    1213
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1214
    1214
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1215
    1215
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1216
    1216
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1217
    1217
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1218
    1218
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1219
    1219
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1220
    1220
  • Thumbnail: Page 
1221
    1221