The Ethics of Surveillance: An Introduction, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Ethics of Surveillance

An Introduction, 1st Edition

By Kevin Macnish


216 pages

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Paperback: 9781138643796
pub: 2017-07-27
Hardback: 9781138643789
pub: 2017-07-27
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315162867
pub: 2017-07-28
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The Ethics of Surveillance: An Introduction systematically and comprehensively examines the ethical issues surrounding the concept of surveillance. Addressing important questions such as:

  • Is it ever acceptable to spy on one's allies?
  • To what degree should the state be able to intrude into its citizens' private lives in the name of security?
  • Can corporate espionage ever be justified?
  • What are the ethical issues surrounding big data?
  • How far should a journalist go in pursuing information?
  • Is it reasonable to expect a degree of privacy in public?
  • Is it ever justifiable for a parent to read a child’s diary?

Featuring case studies throughout, this textbook provides a philosophical introduction to an incredibly topical issue studied by students within the fields of applied ethics, ethics of technology, privacy, security studies, politics, journalism and human geography.


"Ours is a world where surveillance is too often justified on a good guy vs bad guy, simplistic, paradigm. Macnish demonstrates the complexities in the ethics of surveillance in a thoughtful and comprehensive book that warrants careful reading by developers, users and subjects of surveillance alike."

Eric Stoddart, University of St. Andrews, UK

"This book provides a compelling introduction to the wide range of ethical issues raised by the ever-present surveillance technologies that are characteristic of our world. In this lucid and philosophically sophisticated text, Kevin Macnish considers the implications of not only government espionage, but also the surveillance undertaken in the pursuit of national security, commercial competition and excellence in education and, further, demonstrates the numerous ways in which the practice of surveillance raises fundamental questions for social and political philosophers.?"

Adrian Walsh, University of New England, Australia

Table of Contents



Part I – Introducing the Ethics of Surveillance

Chapter 1 - History of Thought on Surveillance and the Ethics of Surveillance

Chapter 2 - The Wrongs of Surveillance

Chapter 3 - Key Ethical Issues in Surveillance

Part II – Applied Contexts

Chapter 4 – International Espionage

Chapter 5 – National Security

Chapter 6 – Policing

Chapter 7 – Social Welfare

Chapter 8 – Corporate Espionage

Chapter 9 – Commercial Uses

Chapter 10 – Journalism

Chapter 11 – Private Investigators

Chapter 12 – Workplace Surveillance

Chapter 13 – Surveillance in Public Places

Chapter 14 – The Young and Old



About the Author

Kevin Macnish is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Twente, The Netherlands.

About the Series

The Ethics of ...

When is it right to go to war? What are the causes of poverty? Are human intelligence and machine intelligence the same? What is cyber-terrorism? Do races exist? What makes a person a refugee?

Each engaging textbook from The Ethics of… series focuses on a significant ethical issue and provides a clear and stimulating explanation of the surrounding philosophical discussions. Focusing on moral debates at the forefront of contemporary society they have been designed for use by students studying philosophy, applied ethics, global ethics and related subjects such as politics, international relations and sociology. Features to aid study include chapter summaries, study questions, annotated further reading and glossaries.

Learn more…

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