Friday, July 05, 2013

Why you Kant tweet crotch-shots

Via Facebook - but I'm not saying whose Facebook page, so as not to overshare, an article about an article about how oversharing might be unethical. Anita Allen, a philosopher, argues that Anthony Weiner broke an ethical obligation to himself by sending out crotch shots, because Kant would say so, or something. I have yet to read the whole paper (three looming deadlines; first email sent in French in a while and I'm rusty), but from the Brainiac piece and the abstract, it looks like Allen's focus is really the obligation to protect one's self from the fallout from sensitive private info reaching the public.

Which... may well be an interesting philosophical question, but would seem to ignore the more obvious problem with overshare, which is that almost by definition, it implicates others. Sometimes in the straightforward sense of, others are discussed without their permission/while too young to give permission. But this argument might even be made when it comes to Weiner's whatever-that-was. Weiner didn't merely reveal his own poor judgment. He also - one might argue, and I'm not sure if I'd argue this - violated his wife's privacy. Married/romantically-partnered couples are assumed to have some kind of sexual relationship, so it was in a sense their sex life on display, no matter how horrifying this may have been (no doubt was) for Weiner's wife.

That, though, might be a stretch. There's enough overshare out there that plainly violates the privacy of one or more other people that even if we classify the Weiner overshare (sorry!) as purely a violation of Weiner's own privacy, overshare as a whole doesn't come away looking so great.

From the article abstract, it seems as though Allen takes for granted that we see it as ethically problematic to tell others' secrets. Whereas... we probably should, but the ubiquity of overshare that isn't just about the sharer suggests this isn't taken all that seriously.


caryatis said...

I don't really see any violation of his wife's privacy. I do see a violation of the privacy of the many women he was involved with...there was an article about this recently, how the women have been ridiculed, harassed and seen their careers suffer for a little internet flirting. In at least one case, if I recall correctly, the woman did not initiate any flirting but simply received a dick pic, and that's enough to get her harassed.

Phoebe said...

I suppose it didn't really violate anyone's privacy other than that of Weiner himself. Nothing was revealed about anyone else, except that they were acquainted with someone doing something ridiculous. But it violated the private lives of both Abedin and the women who received the photos.