Politics and Policy

Corporate totalitarianism

Abstract: In this short piece the recently agreed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is used as background to examine the logic behind the place that corporations hold in our lives. The world that such multinational agreements have produced is rational by current standards and thus it is argued that this rationality itself is somehow faulty. The notion of the rational – in this case but also more broadly – is therefore flipped to consider whether it might not be possible for us to determine the contours of our human experience rather than to have them determined by existing settings.

Keywords: corporations; life taxonomy; TPIP; TPP; Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; Trans-Pacific Partnership

Corporate totalitarianism_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article written for and published on Philosopher, March 05, 2016. <>.

The benefits of being watched

Abstract: The extent of the data mining and surveillance operations being conducted by US intelligence services revealed by Edward Snowden has taken many by surprise. Yet is there real cause for alarm in what we have learned? The following considers eavesdropping technologies and governmental surveillance, with a special focus on the US’s National Security Agency’s (NSA) Prism programme, its telephone metadata recording, and similar data mining programmes. The related questions of whether or not we have an obligation to our government and if so to what extent, and the manner in which probability relates to utility regarding relevant security concerns are also examined. Some of the main objections to surveillance and possible replies to them are considered in light of the programmes highlighted. It is argued that in addition to greater public safety there are some perhaps unexpected benefits for increasing ethical behaviour to being watched, and that those benefits are derived from the knowledge of possible surveillance more so than they are from any actually occurring surveillance. Moreover, the operation of programmes like Prism should be judged separately from the uses to which such programmes are put. The following is a defence of the tools and the techniques that we now know to be in use.

Keywords: eavesdropping technologies; ethical behavior; data mining; governmental obligation; Snowden; surveillance

The benefits of being watched_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Ethical Perspectives, 21:4 (2014), 513-538. It has also been reprinted under the same title as a chapter in the textbook Morality and Moral Controversies: Readings in Moral, Social, and Political Philosophy, 10th edn, edited by Steven Scalet and John Arthur (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2019), 532-541.

The Occupied toolbox: Revisiting the question of violence as an instrument of protest

Abstract: In the present paper the issue of using violence in protests to garner political gain is considered against the background of the Occupy movement and the varied responses to it. Although some may now feel, and certainly many did while the movement was at its peak, that the Occupy protestors should alter their tactics and embrace violence as an efficacious means to sought ends, it is argued here that such a move would be counterproductive and delegitimizing. Moral and psychological impacts on the nondemonstrating public that protestors’ tactics can have are weighed against traditional arguments in favor of using violence. Sources of political legitimacy are also examined, and it is put forward that changes achieved by nonviolence are more likely to be accepted by society at large. Finally, contemporary thinkers and scholars of the left are encouraged to fill the roles open to them that have emerged with Occupy and related movements.

Keywords: nonviolence; Occupy; political legitimacy; protest; violence

The Occupied toolbox_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 27:1 (2013), 15-25.

Freedom, equality, and the self under a moral obligation

Abstract: The question of which political values ought to be emphasized and how we should go about striking a balance between them is an oft-argued and perennially troubling one. How a government views the relationship between competing values will have a vast influence on the policies it pursues and the laws it enacts, generating subsequent consequences that reach into the daily lives of each individual citizen. Rather than approaching the issue through this top-down mentality, however, the following analysis focuses on the point of view of the non-policy making average person and their relationship to government. The argument will be made that if we are to arrive at a healthy, concrete decision on how we should balance our political values then we will need to reconsider the weight we have given to the value of freedom and furthermore what obligations we may or may not have to our governments. The first section below offers an alternative to the obligatory accounts traditionally given and examines positive and negative freedom in that light. The second section then continues the examination by considering the conflict between freedom and economic equality, offering an alternative view of the self as the key to finding a fair and lasting solution.

Keywords: economic equality; economic freedom; political values; positive and negative freedom; the self

Freedom, equality, and the self under a moral obligation_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Regional Development Studies, 17 (2014), 31-54.