Are Boycotts, Shunning, and Shaming Corrupt?

27 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2018

See all articles by Scott Altman

Scott Altman

University of Southern California Law School

Date Written: September 4, 2018


This article argues that boycotts, shunning, and shaming are sometimes corrupt because they create incentives that undermine important individual aims, enticing people into acting for inappropriate reasons. They harm targets by undermining belief formation, or by impeding efforts at living authentically, deterring targets from declaring their beliefs in public or from pursuing projects that they believe important. They are corrupt because they make their targets willing participants in undermining their own aims, subverting their individual ambitions not to allow money or social pressure to influence their beliefs and their most important actions. Although individuals must sometimes take responsibility for maintaining their own integrity – resisting temptations that might corrupt their thoughts and actions – people also have a moral responsibility not to undermine other people’s efforts at integrity.

Keywords: Authenticity, Boycott, Corruption, Shun, Shame

Suggested Citation

Altman, Scott, Are Boycotts, Shunning, and Shaming Corrupt? (September 4, 2018). USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS18-26; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 18-27. Available at SSRN: or

Scott Altman (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Law School ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
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Los Angeles, CA 90089
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213-740-2544 (Phone)
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