Monday, August 20, 2012

Blackmail Inc.

There's another interesting overview at Philosophical Disquisitions, this time focusing on blackmail. The basic question is why should blackmail be prohibited if it is composed of acts that are individually permissible. Anyone who is wedded to absolute free speech as a general principle of social organization (as I am), should be familiar with these arguments.

In this case, Danaher is focusing on Epstein's Blackmail Inc.,described as...

Such a corporation would spend all its time hunting down salacious and upsetting information about people, carefully gaining monopoly control over that information, and demanding money for its non-disclosure.

Would such a world be a pleasant one? Would it be one we ought to welcome? Epstein thinks not, and his reasons for thinking not form the basis of his argument in favour of the continuing criminalisation of blackmail.

 I have some thoughts on this, but should wait for Danaher to finish describing the established work. Mainly, I would object to the models of society that are implied with these arguments (e.g. that society would not adjust to the existence of Blackmail Inc., and that criminalization is an effective way to reduce deceit and fraud in society).


Lorraine said...

Your description of the business model of Blackmail, Inc. mentions carefully gaining monopoly control over information.

I don't believe for a minute that truly free markets implies radical transparency, but of course truly competitive markets (not the same thing IMO) does.

As puzzling as it is that blackmail is illegal, is that insider trading is illegal. In the capital markets, in theory, there is the expectation that people are supposed to be competing on a level informational playing field, but in the J.O.B. market, we are expected to cope with the reality that 95+% of openings are unadvertised, and that networking (i.e. nepotism) is expected of today's job-seeker. A double standard, no?

If information doesn't want to be free, I intend to liberate it against its will!

Ricketson said...

I don't know how Blackmail Inc. would supposedly gain monopoly control over information, unless they could make enforceable contracts. Perhaps by blackmailing everyone with the information?