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ThreatsIntimidation and Its Discontents$
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David P. Barash

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190055295

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190055295.001.0001

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A Nonthreatening Start

A Nonthreatening Start

(p.1) A Nonthreatening Start

David P. Barash

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an overview of threats. Threats are ubiquitous; they are so encompassing that they often go unnoticed. Although people are especially aware of explicit threats, other threats are often hidden, leaving most of the interpersonal ones implicit and therefore psychologically fraught. Warnings, in contrast, can be impersonal and not necessarily conveyed by an individual. But sometimes, threats and warnings are indistinguishable. This book begins by going through the biology of threats as conveyed and received by animals, followed by a variety of socially mediated threats intended to prevent crime, along with such consequential threats as hellfire and brimstone, personal death, and gun violence and the rise of right-wing national populism, and culminates in a critical look at nuclear deterrence—the premier manifestation of threat at the international level. Of particular note is how responses to threats often become counterproductive: hardly at all in the case of animals, occasionally in the personal and social realm, and then overwhelmingly when it comes to nuclear deterrence.

Keywords:   animals, consequential threats, crime, explicit threats, implicit threats, nuclear deterrence, socially mediated threats, threats, warnings

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