The ethical presuppositions behind the library bill of rights

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The American Library Association's (ALA's) Library Bill of Rights is based on a foundation of ethical presuppositions. In this article, these presuppositions are spelled out and critically examined in light of several ethical theories (for example, utilitarianism, natural rights theory, and social contract theory). We suggest that social contract theory provides the strongest argument for a right to access to information (and to have that information provided by public libraries). We argue, however, that the right to access to information is not unlimited. Limiting access (including censorship) is appropriate, for example, when such a limitation is necessary to protect a more fundamental right. Finally, we argue that the ALA's advocacy of an unlimited right to access is based on a mistaken understanding of what follows from the fact that all of our judgments are fallible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-491
Number of pages24
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Volume70
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2000

Fingerprint

bill
contract theory
fundamental right
censorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

Cite this

The ethical presuppositions behind the library bill of rights. / Fricke, Martin H; Mathiesen, Kristy K; Fallis, Don T.

In: Library Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 4, 10.2000, p. 468-491.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{5ff4a0e4e3bf4e849822e33ead96f978,
title = "The ethical presuppositions behind the library bill of rights",
abstract = "The American Library Association's (ALA's) Library Bill of Rights is based on a foundation of ethical presuppositions. In this article, these presuppositions are spelled out and critically examined in light of several ethical theories (for example, utilitarianism, natural rights theory, and social contract theory). We suggest that social contract theory provides the strongest argument for a right to access to information (and to have that information provided by public libraries). We argue, however, that the right to access to information is not unlimited. Limiting access (including censorship) is appropriate, for example, when such a limitation is necessary to protect a more fundamental right. Finally, we argue that the ALA's advocacy of an unlimited right to access is based on a mistaken understanding of what follows from the fact that all of our judgments are fallible.",
author = "Fricke, {Martin H} and Mathiesen, {Kristy K} and Fallis, {Don T}",
year = "2000",
month = "10",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "70",
pages = "468--491",
journal = "Library Quarterly",
issn = "0024-2519",
publisher = "University of Chicago",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The ethical presuppositions behind the library bill of rights

AU - Fricke, Martin H

AU - Mathiesen, Kristy K

AU - Fallis, Don T

PY - 2000/10

Y1 - 2000/10

N2 - The American Library Association's (ALA's) Library Bill of Rights is based on a foundation of ethical presuppositions. In this article, these presuppositions are spelled out and critically examined in light of several ethical theories (for example, utilitarianism, natural rights theory, and social contract theory). We suggest that social contract theory provides the strongest argument for a right to access to information (and to have that information provided by public libraries). We argue, however, that the right to access to information is not unlimited. Limiting access (including censorship) is appropriate, for example, when such a limitation is necessary to protect a more fundamental right. Finally, we argue that the ALA's advocacy of an unlimited right to access is based on a mistaken understanding of what follows from the fact that all of our judgments are fallible.

AB - The American Library Association's (ALA's) Library Bill of Rights is based on a foundation of ethical presuppositions. In this article, these presuppositions are spelled out and critically examined in light of several ethical theories (for example, utilitarianism, natural rights theory, and social contract theory). We suggest that social contract theory provides the strongest argument for a right to access to information (and to have that information provided by public libraries). We argue, however, that the right to access to information is not unlimited. Limiting access (including censorship) is appropriate, for example, when such a limitation is necessary to protect a more fundamental right. Finally, we argue that the ALA's advocacy of an unlimited right to access is based on a mistaken understanding of what follows from the fact that all of our judgments are fallible.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0034348269&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0034348269&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0034348269

VL - 70

SP - 468

EP - 491

JO - Library Quarterly

JF - Library Quarterly

SN - 0024-2519

IS - 4

ER -