Theorists of public morality—from the ancient Greek philosophers and Roman jurists on—have noticed that apparently private acts of vice, when they multiply and become widespread, can imperil important public interests. This fact embarrasses philosophical efforts to draw a sharp line that distinguishes a realm of “private” morality that is not subject to law from a domain of public actions that may rightly be subjected to legal regulation.
In my memory, the question of public and private morality really come to the fore during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. Interestingly, I just came across a headline relating that the grotesque and outlandish celeb. Lady Gaga serenaded Bill Clinton à la Marilyn Monroe. Remember all that talk about 'the dignity of the office'? A sign of the times, I suppose.