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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

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

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