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ReputationA Network Interpretation$
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Kenneth H. Craik

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195330922

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195330922.001.0001

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The Risks of Discourse About Other Persons

The Risks of Discourse About Other Persons

Defamation Law from the Plaintiff and Defendant Points of View

(p.145) 8 The Risks of Discourse About Other Persons

Kenneth H. Craik

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 mobilizes the network interpretation to analyze in detail a classic venue for taking action in defense of one’s reputation—the libel courts. A network interpretation is implicit in key elements of the rationale and structure of common-law actions for defamation. Anywhere throughout the members and linkages of one’s reputational network, an assertion potentially damaging to reputation can enter and circulate narrowly or broadly and in ways difficult to predict or track. Psychological research indicates that attributions of disreputable acts appear to be much more difficult to disconfirm than attributions of virtuous and socially desirable acts, thereby presenting a challenge for rehabilitating the reputation of vindicated plaintiffs. This chapter reviews the changing and expanding concepts of reputation within the common-law tradition of libel from the fifteenth century to the contemporary era of Internet defamation.

Keywords:   libel, actions for defamation, Internet defamation, concepts of reputation, rehabilitating reputation

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