Understanding Privacy. By Daniel J. Solove. Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. 2008. Pp. x, 257. Cloth, $45; paper, $19.95.
Conceptualizing privacy has long been a contested endeavor. Some scholars argue that privacy protects important interests. Julie Cohen and Paul Schwartz, for example, view privacy as essential to autonomy and deliberative democracy. Others are skeptical as to whether privacy vindicates interests worthy of discourse at all. Judge Richard Posner, for instance, contends that privacy permits individuals to conceal "discreditable facts" about them to society's detriment. At the heart of this dispute is privacy's protean nature: it means "so many different things to so many different people" that attempts to articulate just what it is, or why it is important, generally have failed or become unwieldy. Without a framework with which to delineate its parameters, privacy remains a conceptual muddle.