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Midwest Philosophy Colloquium

Concerns of Privacy

September 27, 1999, 8:00 p.m., First Lutheran Church, Morris
Richard Nunan (College of Charleston, Charleston, SC)
“The Right of Privacy and Same-Sex Marriage”

Professor Nunan will begin by noting that a number of states in the U.S. have enacted legislation declaring same-sex marriages void. However, he will go on to argue that the constitutionally recognized right to privacy provides a fundamental justification for legal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages. He will indicate that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly asserted that the right to privacy encompasses decisions governing the creation and maintenance of a family. He will argue that if the courts refuse to recognize marriage rights for same sex couples, then ipso facto the courts refuse to recognize their privacy rights with respect to family matters. But refusal to recognize the validity of any person's privacy right with respect to family matters is, in the eyes of the law, wrong. If so, by appealing to the validity of these rights, one can insist on the legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Professor Nunan will also present a paper, “Local Autonomy and the Right of Privacy: Legal Moralism and the European Court of Human Rights,” at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 27, Prairie Lounge, Student Center. All are cordially invited.

October 25, 1999, 8:00 p.m., Federated Church, Morris
Judith Wagner Decew (Clark University, Worcester, MA)
“Privacy and Medical Information”

Professor Decew will examine the protection of medical records in an age of information technology. She will first explain her views on the value of privacy and what we lose without it. Then she will use multiple examples from European Union countries as well as the United States to examine the following alternative approaches to the protection of medical records, given advancements in technology in information accumulation, storage, and retrieval: reliance on governmental guidelines and centralized databases, on the one hand, versus the use of corporate self-regulation on the other. She will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each, and then describe her own third hybrid view on how to maintain a presumption in favor of privacy with respect to medical information. Her hybrid view aims to safeguard privacy without sacrificing the benefits of new information technology in medicine.

Professor Decew will also present a paper, “Moral Conflicts and the Role of Moral Theory” at 2:30 p.m., Prairie Lounge, UMM, October 25. All are cordially invited.

April 17, 2000, 8:00 p.m., Newman Center, Morris
Professor Jennifer Greene (University of Texas, Austin, TX)
“Rights to Privacy and the Public Good”

Professor Greene will argue that practices such as mandatory drug testing, certain notification processes followed in AIDS cases, and the response to the recent demand for genetic information by children who were conceived by new reproductive technology--practices often justified on the grounds that they foster or are in the interest of the public good--all point in the direction of a balancing between the public good and the right to privacy. Doctor Greene's discussion will focus on assessing whether this balancing act is possible or desirable.

Professor Greene will also present a paper, “On Self-Becoming: the Italian Marxists on Individuality” at 2:30 p.m., Humanities 12, UMM, April 17. All are cordially invited.

The evening lectures are made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Humanities Commission in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Minnesota State Legislature, the U.S West Foundation, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Dean, University of Minnesota-Morris.