CFP: The Ethics of State Mass Surveillance

Bis zum 30. Juni 2019 können noch Beiträge zum Call for Papers für das Schwerpunktheft "The Ethics of State Mass Surveillance" der Zeitschrift Moral Philosophy and Politics eingereicht werden.

Submission deadline: June 30, 2019

Call for Papers: The Ethics of State Mass Surveillance

Special Issue of Moral Philosophy and Politics

Guest Editor: Peter Koenigs (Tübingen/Karlsruhe)

In the aftermath of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, many governments have increased their surveillance efforts. The striking extent of some of these surveillance measures has become public knowledge through the revelations of Edward Snowden. Despite the great social relevance of the emergence of new surveillance capabilities, philosophers are only beginning to discuss the ethical significance of this development.

Extensive surveillance measures hold the promise of better protection against terrorism and organized crime. The legitimate effort to ensure citizens’ security clashes, however, with citizens’ equally legitimate interest in privacy and freedom from state surveillance. At the heart of the ethical problem of state mass surveillance is thus the tension between the value of privacy on the one hand and that of security on the other. The ethical evaluation of state mass surveillance requires a better understanding of these two conflicting dimensions of the problem and their relationship.

Is privacy in the first instance a good that serves the interests of individuals, e.g. as a condition for individual autonomy, intimacy or dignity? Or might the value of privacy reside in its ability to benefit society at large, as thinkers in the republican or communitarian tradition have suggested? The tension between privacy and security then raises the question of how these two values are to be balanced. While many feel that surveillance efforts are growing increasingly disproportionate, some experts on risk have called for even more far-reaching surveillance, which they consider necessary to prevent terrorist attacks of a greater, catastrophic, scale. It is also unclear whether the mere collection of large swaths of personal data constitutes a problematic privacy violation, or whether such a violation only occurs with the accessing of such data. Depending on how this question is answered, mass surveillance efforts by states involve either a very serious infringement on citizens’ privacy rights or only a negligible one.

Moral Philosophy and Politics invites contributions on these and related topics for a special issue on the ethics of state mass surveillance. Suitable research questions include, but are not limited to:

  • What, if anything, is valuable about privacy and freedom from state surveillance?
  • Does the mere collecting, but not accessing, of personal information by states constitute a privacy violation?
  • When are infringements upon citizens’ privacy proportionate?
  • Should we increase surveillance efforts to prevent (catastrophic) terrorist attacks?
  • Is there a liberal/libertarian/republican/communitarian/etc. case for or against state mass surveillance?

Papers should be submitted before June 30, 2019 and should generally not exceed 8000 words; shorter articles will also be accepted for review.

All submissions will undergo MOPP’s double-blind refereeing process. Please note that this process is not organized by the guest editors but by the journal’s founding editors who will also have the final word on publication decisions. The journal’s manuscript submission site can accessed here:

For any queries, please email the guest editor: Peter Königs (peterkoenigs@gmx.de)