Volume 16, 2000
Race, Social Identity, and Human Dignity
John R. Rowan
Privacy, Safety, and Human Dignity
The Moral Status of Megan’s Laws
This paper is an analysis of the reasoning behind Megan’s Laws, which pertain to the notification of communities when convicted sex offenders move into the area, especially those offenders who have carried out crimes against children. Liberals tend to criticize these laws and often point to the value of privacy, which they claim would be unacceptably compromised by allowing them. Communitarians tend to endorse these laws and often point to the value of safety, which they claim would be unacceptably compromised were it not for such laws. Both sides also rely on the notion of human dignity in support of their arguments. In this paper, I offer a common foundation for these values and suggest implications regarding the moral acceptability of Megan’s Laws.