In essence, having or keeping info secret without telling any human being is what secrets are, Which means that you are from an ethical standpoint not sharing the knowledge that you got, but rather limiting its spread.

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    Why should the spreading of knowledge systematically be desirable? If my neighbor has the knowledge that he is sexually aroused by pictures of possums, I'd rather have him keep it to himself. Also questions about ethics should specify what ethical framework author they have in mind. Otherwise their scope is too broad.
    – armand
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 4:52
  • Biological life implies collaboration and competition, you can't exclude any, and secret is key to competition. Imagine telling the goalkeeper before shooting a penalty: "I should tell you I'll kick the ball lower to the left", or telling your car buyer "I am ready to accept 2000£ less of what you are offering me for this car". Consider that collaboration coexists with competition, eg. with each member of your family or job, so you usually keep secrets when in competition mode, for example, when one argues with his wife (although marriage is eminently a collaborative interaction).
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 6:09
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    Also, there is an important difference between secrecy and privacy.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 4:06
  • One simple reason is that people can have vulnerabilities. Since not all external parties can be assumed benign, vulnerabilities generally ought not be carelessly disclosed. Imagine for example there were a sequence of words that when fallen upon your ears would cause you certain death. Would you share this knowledge? This would be comparable to saying "if you want to kill me, here is the easiest way...". Sharing such information would be essentially facilitating harm.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Having information that you do not share is not, by itself, an ethical or moral problem.

It might be a problem if you had promised to share that information. For example, if you had promised honesty when asked a question, say when you were under oath in a court. Or if you were contractually obligated to provide particular information. Various situations of employment have such conditions. Or if you were a doctor, you are obligated to provide certain types of information to your patients. There are some other such situations.

There are also situations where making use of information you have may be illegal. This is the idea of insider trading. That is a quite complicated legal issue, and I am certainly not qualified to say anything other than the idea exists.

But these things are exceptions and variations, not the usual thing. There is a great deal of information that an individual has that he may decline to share. Much of it will simply be boring. How many pairs of socks you own. Some of it would harm the individual if they shared. Your password to your online bank services. Or hurt others. Personal secrets you know about your husband or wife.

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