Events / Department of Philosophy Seybert Lectures: Anita Allen, Lecture 2

Department of Philosophy Seybert Lectures: Anita Allen, Lecture 2

April 12, 2019
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Anita Allen
Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Philosophy
University of Pennsylvania


Location: Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 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.


Anita L. Allen is Vice Provost for Faculty and the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also Chair of Provost’s Arts Advisory Council. A graduate of Harvard Law School with a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Michigan, Allen is an expert on privacy and data protection law and ethics. She is President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association (2018-19).  An elected  member of the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Medicine, and served under President Obama as a member of his National Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Allen also has served on numerous US editorial, advisory, and non-profit boards including the Association of American Law Schools, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the Hastings Center, Planned Parenthood and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.  She served for two years on the IRB of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative and the board of directors of the former WCG Foundation.  In June 2014, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C. for her pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy. She has been recognized by the Alaine Locke Society and the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers.  Allen is co-author of Privacy Law and Society (2016), the most comprehensive textbook in the field.  Allen’s other books about data protection, values and contemporary life include, Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (2011); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (2004), Why Privacy Isn’t Everything (2003) and Uneasy Access Privacy for Women in a Free Society (1988). Allen, who has written more than a 100 scholarly articles, has also contributed and been featured in popular magazines and blogs, including “The Stone” and “What It’s Like to be a Philosopher,” and appeared on numerous television and radio programs, and lectured on privacy in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.