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Navigating the Unknown: Towards a Positive Conception of Anonymity
Southern Journal of Philosophy (2013)
  • Julie E Ponesse, The University of Western Ontario
Talk of anonymity floats freely and, in many contexts, rampantly in everyday, nonphilosophical discourse. But despite a surge of interest in anonymity—in anonymity protections, on the one hand, and anonymity harms and abuses, on the other—it is not at all clear what anonymity is. Is it simply a matter of being unknown? Or is anonymity something more, or less, than this? Unfortunately, existing analyses frame anonymity very generally as a phenomenon of unknowability and/or concealment. Consequently, they fail to capture what distinguishes anonymity and anonymity relations from, for example, privacy and privacy relations. In this paper, I explore a more precise way of articulating anonymity, developing what I call the “central anonymity paradigm,” which frames anonymity as the result of a specific exercise of control in which true pieces of information about a person are concealed from others with an effect of dissociability. I use this paradigm to show how anonymity is characteristically interpersonal and network-relative, and deeply connected to issues of personal identity
  • anonymity,
  • unknowability,
  • dissociability
Publication Date
Citation Information
Julie E Ponesse. "Navigating the Unknown: Towards a Positive Conception of Anonymity" Southern Journal of Philosophy Vol. 51 Iss. 3 (2013)
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