Mitchell N. Berman

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Criminal Law

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195314854
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This chapter presents an opinionated summary of the state of the literature. The first section clears ground by introducing distinctions, vocabulary, and simple hypotheticals, and also provides a rudimentary account of the methodology for evaluating competing blackmail theories. The second section summarizes and criticizes many of the most notable contributions to the blackmail literature: those that seek to explain and justify blackmail's criminalization, as well as a few contrarian theories which maintain that blackmail's criminalization cannot be justified. The next two sections introduce the “evidentiary theory of blackmail.” The fifth section explores some reasons to believe that the puzzle warrants the substantial intellectual attention it has received, partly by sketching out some implications the evidentiary theory bears beyond the case of blackmail.

Keywords: blackmail theories; evidentiary theory; blackmail's criminalization; coercion

Article.  37518 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Law

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