On Not Blaming and Victim Blaming

Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):95-128 (2020)
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In this paper we show that being blameworthy for not blaming and being blameworthy for victim blaming are structurally similar. Each involve the two traditional contours of moral responsibility: a knowledge condition and a control condition. But interestingly, in these cases knowledge and control are importantly interrelated. Being in a relationship with another person affords us varying degrees of knowledge about them. This knowledge in turn affords agents in relationships varying degrees of influence over one another. Cases where an agent is especially blameworthy for failing to blame a friend, a close colleague, or a spouse highlight this. The interdependence of these two conditions in interpersonal relationships sheds (partial) light on why victim blaming is morally wrong. We argue that victim blamers suffer from a kind of moral myopia by only focusing on what the victim could do, in virtue of their being in a relationship of some sort with their abuser, to avoid abuse. We focus specifically on cases where such moral myopia is fueled by misogynistic and hierarchical gender schema and scripts.



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Author Profiles

Robert H. Wallace
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Joel Chow Ken Q
University of Arizona

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References found in this work

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 2003 - In Gary Watson (ed.), Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Responsibility as Answerability.Angela M. Smith - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (2):99-126.

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