As long as people in the public eye do their job well, does it matter what they do in private?

YES: Public figures exert significant impact on society in various ways, justifying both public interest and reflection on their private actions and lives.    

  1. Many professions encompassing a public role, such as politicians, require the highest standard of ethical behavior in the people holding them, and private actions that breach such norms will often undermine the integrity of the role, however well the individual may have performed the role in public. 

  2. Some private actions resulting from one’s personal beliefs and choices may render a person unsuitable for a public role, and society should have the right to hold the individual accountable, despite past achievements and successes in the role.

  3. Public figures, such as national athletes, are often looked up to as role models by the masses and their private actions should reflect lives worthy of emulation rather than condemnation, given the public’s expectation of them and the often disproportionate benefits in money, fame and connections which they get as a result of their public roles.

NO: Public figures may exert significant impact on society in their public roles but there are many reasons justifying the possibility and necessity of separating their public and private lives.

  1. Individuals are entitled to their privacy whatever the significance of their public role and progressive societies should not be punitive in expecting these individuals to constrain their private lives at all costs if they can adequately fulfill their public roles.

  2. Many private actions that result from one’s personal beliefs and choices, such as marriage or singlehood, have little or no impact on one’s public roles and it would be unfair for society to demand that public figures account for them when they are doing their jobs well.

  3. Society’s expectations of public figures should account for their human fallibility rather than raising them to unattainable levels of moral and ethical correctness, and what they do in private should not be judged unfairly against them if they perform well in their roles.