Spite: Legal and Social Implications

60 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017

See all articles by Jeffrey Lynch Harrison

Jeffrey Lynch Harrison

University of Florida - Levin College of Law

Date Written: September 5, 2017


Spite is not a simple concept. The same actions may be motivated by a desire to harm others as a source of the actor’s satisfaction. They may also be a reaction to a personal sense of injustice. Finally, spite-like actions are consistent with simply righting a wrong. This Article makes the case that spite, in its worst from, is comparably to theft. It is a taking of someone’s sense of well-being without consent. It also claims that the purchase of positional goods is ultimately spite driven. It canvasses tort law, contracts, tax law, trademark, and criminal law in an effort to assess the reaction of the law to spite.

Keywords: spite, contract law, tort law, trademark, tax policy, economics, theft, ultimatum game, cooperation

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K34, K36

Suggested Citation

Harrison, Jeffrey Lynch, Spite: Legal and Social Implications (September 5, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3032677 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3032677

Jeffrey Lynch Harrison (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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