Captured by Evil: The Idea of Corruption in Law

50 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2019

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 14, 2019


Draft- Harvard University Workshop 2005. A more extensive treatment can be found in Laura S. Underkuffler, Captured by Evil: The Idea of Corruption in Law (Yale University Press 2013).

What is corruption - as a legal, cultural, and political idea? This work argues that corruption is one of the most troubled concepts in law. Contemporary western ideas of law assume that law involves knowable and articulable standards that are neutral, logical, and demystified. Corruption defies these limits. This work explores the implications of this for legal treatments of corruption and for the use of corruption as a condemnatory idea in journalistic, cultural, and political accounts.

Keywords: breach of public duty, corruption, corruption and evil, corruption-traditional theories, criminal law, criminal law-character and acts, emotion and law, idea of evil in law, incommensurableconcepts in philosophy and law, judicial corruption, moral values in law, political equality, rule of law

Suggested Citation

Underkuffler, Laura, Captured by Evil: The Idea of Corruption in Law (November 14, 2019). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-41. Available at SSRN: or

Laura Underkuffler (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

322 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
(607) 255-1245 (Phone)
(607) 255-7193 (Fax)


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