Blackmailing for Mutual Good: A Reply to Russell Hardin
22 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2011
Date Written: July, 13 2011
Blackmail is the demand for money, or other valuable consideration, coupled with a threat, typically, to expose information the blackmailee prefers to keep secret. For example, I threaten that unless you give me $1,000, I will tell your wife that you have been unfaithful to her. Since you value your marriage more than this amount of money, you pay me for my silence. As a result, you gain the difference between these two amounts. If my silence is worth $5,000, you benefit to the tune of $4,000. My gain is roughly $1,000 because sending a letter to your wife telling her about your peccadillo, and enclosing the pictures I have of you in the act will cost me only postage and a moment of time. As such, blackmail is like any other mutually beneficial economic transaction, at least in the ex ante sense.
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