I feel like the insistence that a victim of a crime is ‘never ever ever’ even partly responsible for what happens to them comes from the zero sum fallacy.
The zero sum thinking exists in situations where there is a fixed amount of a unit and therefore if some of those units are given, then they are necessarily taken from the other. The most common example of this as a fallacy in the modern world is in the economy. People imagine that there must be a ‘winner’ and ‘looser’ in any trade. The reality of it is that (unless there is some kind of fraud) both people are winners. I trade my widget (which is essentially worthless to me because I’ve got thousands and they are easy to produce) and you sell me your widget (which I can’t produce without a lot of effort). In the end we have both benefited, we have created a bigger pie.
A survey just released today showing that 1 in 5 Australians think that drunk rape victims are partly responsible.
The way that this stuff is interpreted is to say that we have 100 units of responsibility for the incident (i.e. the rape). (1 in 5 people think) therefore think depending on the circumstances we need to decide where to allocate these points between the victim and the attacker (I assume this is what the other 4 in 5 people assume is being said as well).
I would argue however that both are making the mistake of assuming a ‘fixed pie’ of blame. The rapist wins all 100 units of responsibility for the rape. That choice was entirely theirs, no matter the circumstances, they are entirely responsible for what occurred (there might be some borderline cases where poor communication does make this fuzzy but lets leave that for now). However this is not to say that the victim hasn’t generated new responsibility units (like the traders create value units). The fact that they were raped here is inconsequential, expect for the fact that it was a possibility. By that I mean that regardless of whether or not a person was raped they committed the same level of irresponsibility/moral wrong.
To conceptualize this imagine other areas of life where no body is a victim of anything but we still make moral judgments of peoples actions. E.g. taking hard drugs like ice, ignoring OH&S policies, drinking to excess, base jumping.
If we accept life as a standard of value (i.e. that it would be wrong do things that, if they go wrong, would result in life harming consequences beyond the benefits one could reasonably expect) then there seems to be, at least prima facie, reasons to believe these things are morally questionable.
Consider a situation where a person goes base jumping and they die or are permanently disabled. Let us imagine that this person loved doing this but in hindsight they realise that despite the enjoyment they received from it they were foolish for indulging in it. Due to the loss of value it caused. If one wanted to make a judgement, we might be able to conclude that the person was morally responsible for the reckless destruction of value (and those who persisted in the activity are morally wrong for recklessly endangering value).
Taking this back to victim blaming rape victims who were intoxicated. Again the rape is not their moral responsibility, but in the same way the base jumper was not morally responsible for the random gust of wind that pushed them into the cliff face. The choice to get passed out drunk, as a general rule, seems to be a morally questionable act. So in the situation when someone gets raped while in this state we ‘blame’ them, not because they caused the rape, but because they recklessly put themselves in a position where their values (e.g. their long term enjoyment of life) were in danger.
I’ve said a lot more than I planned to but to reiterate, ‘victim blaming’ is not (or should not should not be used to) transfer the responsibility of the assault onto the victim. Rather it should be a rational evaluation of the victims choices and behavior. Which results in both ‘100%’ of moral wrong on the rapist for rape and ‘x%’* of moral wrong on the victim for ‘value-risking’ choices. Which results in a greater percentage of moral wrong then we had at the beginning, i.e. the pie of moral wrong has expanded.
*The ‘x’ here is something like the approximate degree to which someone violated the ‘life as a standard of value’ principle that I outlined above.
**Our choices are complicated and are highly contextual. The evaluation of whether someone’s choices are morally wrong is based on something like a ‘reasonable knowledge’ test. If someone got tipsy among a group of close friends in an imitate environment and then something bad happened then the moral responsibility would be little to nothing.
***before posting I was given instructed to add this additional caveat. Some might object to my comparison of a rapist to a ‘random gust of wind’. ‘Why would you assume that rapist are this inherent part of reality and that we must be subject to them?’ or some similar objection. What is important is to consider the facts of reality and make judgement accordingly. It is not that rapists are this inherent unthinking rule of nature, rather that in a social setting of 7 billion people rapists are an inevitability (like rolling approximately 100 fives after 600 rolls, or approximately 15% of the population will be gay, ect) and given that it would be irrational and (potentially) immoral to ignore it. Also if you look at the second caveat I do seriously intend this analysis to be based on a rational interpretation of the facts and not some intrinsicism approach that says certain activities are inherently right or wrong, they are rather contextual.
Thoughts, objections, improvements?
so theres this beeping noise that’s been annoying the life out of me for two days and it’s coming from downstairs, and i am actually too lazy to get out of my damn bed and fix it
it happens every 30 seconds - *BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP*
and so finally when i am trying to procrastinate writing my report i venture out of my room for like the first time in 3 days and check it out
turns out its the downstairs freezer door alarm.
turns out the freezer door has been open for three days
i take a look inside and EVERYTHING IS ONE GIANT GLACIER WITH HUGE CHUNKS OF WINDSWEPT ICE
me: *closes door*