Edward Snowden, former NSA infrastructure analyst turned whistleblower, spoke on May 15 to Cubberley Auditorium to debate the philosophical tensions of whistleblowing and authorities surveillance. The 2015 Symbolic Systems Distinguished Speaker, Snowden spoke by way of video convention from Moscow.
Professors of philosophy John Perry and Kenneth Taylor moderated the dialogue, half of which additionally served as a recording of “Philosophy Talk,” a nationally-syndicated radio program which grapples with issues in philosophy and the way philosophy pertains to our on a regular basis lives.
After transient introductions by Perry and Taylor, Snowden addressed the dilemmas in whistleblowing and his ideas on his state of affairs. Taylor requested whether or not he sees himself as a hero or a traitor, contemplating the assorted depictions introduced by the federal government and media.
“This is a really common question that’s asked a lot,” he stated. “I think it’s got one of the least interesting answers. I don’t think about myself or how I will be perceived. It’s not about me. It’s about us. I’m not a hero. I’m not a traitor. I’m an ordinary American like anyone else in the room. I’m just trying to do the best that I can.”
Snowden, who presently resides in Russia below asylum, proceeded to debate the cost-benefit evaluation that whistleblowers should think about earlier than leaking data.
“I certainly paid for it,” he stated. “I lived in Hawaii, had a wonderful girlfriend, a home, a happy family, a successful career. To walk away from that it does require a real commitment to something…I think the driving principle is that you have to have a greater commitment to justice than a fear of the law.”
Perry and Taylor requested whether or not Snowden was reluctant to “break the law.” Discussing his private motivations for leaking the NSA paperwork, Snowden stated he was motivated extra by “self-interest” than altruism, as he felt that he would enhance societal wellbeing by revealing and in the end dismantling the NSA’s metadata assortment packages. He added that he feels there are ethical obligations to behave when the regulation now not displays the morality of the society it governs.
“When legality and morality begin to separate, we all have a moral obligation to do something about that,” he stated. “When I saw that the work I was doing and all my colleagues were doing [was] being subversive not only to our intentions but contrary to the public’s intent, I felt an obligation to act.”