Human Rights in an Information Age: A Philosophical Analysis


335 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-3583-3
DDC 303.48'23




Reviewed by Susan McKnight

Susan McKnight is an administrator of the Courts Technology Integrated Justice Project at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.


Gregory J. Walters tackles an immense and controversial topic in this
book. With the rapid influx of technology into every level of society
today, a new system of rights and ethics needs to be determined. Walters
examines the existence and relevance of Canadian policies regarding all
facets of information systems, including public health, security, and
e-commerce, to determine whether or not our existing human rights are
sufficient to engender an adequate amount of freedom and well-being for
all citizens. He contrasts existing policies affecting the global
information highway with those policies currently being implemented in
Canada. He makes use of Alan Gewirth’s action-based framework of the
“Principle of Generic Consistency” to arrive at his conclusions. He
determines that any system of human rights suitable for all in the
information age must include the values of trust, mutuality, and social

To prove his points, Walters first explains the information age in the
context of modernity and proceeds to define all the terms he will be
using throughout his arguments. A distinction is made between those
rights that all humans require for their individual well-being and those
individual rights that must be superseded to benefit the community. His
conclusion also admits the necessity of “spirituality that goes hand
in hand with an emphasis on living a good life, a life of flourishing
autonomy and fruitful, communicative association with others.” He
provides a great deal of historical material, citing an impressive
bibliography of fellow authors and government documents. A very helpful
complete listing of all acronyms used throughout the text can be found
at the beginning of the book.

Walters is a professor of ethics in the Faculties of Theology and
Philosophy at Saint Paul University. In 1998, he held the Gordon F.
Henderson Chair in Human Rights at the Human Rights Research and
Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.


Walters, Gregory J., “Human Rights in an Information Age: A Philosophical Analysis,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024,