Cécile Fabre, "Spying Through a Glass Darkly: The Ethics of Espionage and Counter-Intelligence" (Oxford UP, 2022)


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On its face, spying and counter-intelligence activities seem morally suspect. They tend to involve sneaking, deceiving, and manipulating, as well as various forms of betrayal, treachery, and disloyalty. Yet intelligence and counter-intelligence operations are mainstays of any modern state. Are we to conclude that these activities are wrong, but nonetheless necessary, given the realities of modern politics?

In Spying Through a Glass Darkly: The Ethics of Espionage and Counter-Intelligence (Oxford UP, 2022), Cécile Fabre develops an intricate account of the morality of spying and counter-intelligence activities. She argues that routine espionage activities are morally justified – and sometimes obligatory – as a means to thwart violations of fundamental rights. However, she also argues that familiar forms of mass surveillance are unjustified.

Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

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