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‘Philosopher and Social Theorist’

December 20, 2022

An in-depth profile of Prof. Anita L. Allen recently appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Anita L. Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, was recently featured in a profile in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, discussing her 2022 Bioethics Founders’ Award from The Hastings Center and explains why she considers herself “a philosopher and a social theorist” at heart.

From Diverse: Issues in Higher Education:

“As a law professor, I’ve spent my career — which now has extended into 35th or 36th year — working on a couple different areas,” Allen says. “I would say that I work primarily in the area of data protection and privacy law. I’m a specialist on the philosophy and law of privacy and data protection. And I also work in the area of bioethics and the law, with a special focus on genetics, human reproduction, and mental health. And then, I’m also someone who works on issues around personal injury law [and] tort law.”

And for her contributions to these fields, Allen was named as one of two recipients of the 2022 Bioethics Founders’ Award from the research institute, The Hastings Center.

Allen is no stranger to the institute. She says she has been a fellow of The Hastings Center, head of The Hastings Center Council, and ex officio a member of The Hastings Center Board of Directors.

“I was extremely happy and maybe even surprised to receive the Founders’ Award from The Hastings Center,” says Allen… .

Allen is an interdisciplinary thinker with a storied career in law, bioethics, and data protection. A graduate of Harvard Law with a PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan, she is internationally renowned as an expert on philosophical dimensions of privacy and data protection law, ethics, bioethics, legal philosophy, women’s rights, and diversity in higher education; she has been named among the world’s top 20 philosophers by Academic Influence.

Allen was president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA) from 2018 to 2019, the first African American woman in history to be so named. In 2021, she was awarded APA’s highest honor, the Philip L. Quinn Prize; she also received the 2022 Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Privacy Award.

Allen is an elected member of the American Law Institute, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Medicine and is a former member of the National Academies’ Forum on Cyber Resilience. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of The Hastings Center.

She served under President Barack Obama as a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. For two years she was on the institutional review board of the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the National Advisory Council on Human Genome Research. She was chair of the board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, D.C., from 2020 to 2022; in 2014 she received a lifetime achievement award from EPIC for her pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy, and for the same accomplishment she was awarded honorary doctorates from Tilburg University in the Netherlands and the College of Wooster in the United States. She has been recognized by the Alaine Locke Society and the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers.

Allen is co-author of Privacy Law and Society (2016), a comprehensive textbook in the field. Her other books about data protection, values, and contemporary life include Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (2011); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (2004), Why Privacy Isn’t Everything (2003), and Uneasy Access: Privacy for Women in a Free Society (1988).

Read the full profile.