Author Topic: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim  (Read 2350 times)

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Offline Belgarath

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2017, 06:43:33 PM »
I don't think that you can say that if the victim in the UAL incident had done something differently that this wouldn't have happened somewhere else to someone else, and I think that's at least part of the essence of why victim-blaming just doesn't work all that well here. At the end of the day, most people *are* going to silently and meekly get off a plane they have every right to be on when they are told to do so.


So lets take the beating out of this for a second.  Lets say they had removed him without incident and charged him with failure to comply with the instructions of flight crew (which is a crime).  Would you feel differently then?  (The beating is a separate issue to me.  That's the cops doing their job wrong, and they are fully responsible for that treatment)

Second thing, he did not have a right to be there.  Thats really clear and I haven't seen anyone who knows anything about this disagree.

I don't view this the same as 'oh you shouldn't dress the way you did'  but more that the victim in this case was actually doing something illegal at the time he was victimized.  Perhaps we are talking about two different things.  Does this guy bear any blame for getting beat up?  No, and he should sue the shit out of the cops that did this and the airport. 
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Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2017, 07:14:22 PM »
Seat belts and interacting with the airport police are far cries from the OP about cancer. It is much easier to apportion blame to someone not wearing a seat belt in a car wreck than it is for someone developing colon cancer. Hell, we know of life long smokers who live longer than normal lives, the confounding factors are so great and genetics play such an integral role that it is difficult to compare.

Oh yes, I agree that it's highly situational.  I was just trying to think of an example where I COULD apportion some blame to the victim.  But in this case, refusing to get off the plane does not justify a beat down.
Sure, but at the end of the day that's where I get off. If you're apportioning blame, 100% of it goes to somewhere between the airline, the employees of the airline who didn't "think out of the box", and the police. Sure, the victim could have done some other things to have avoided this encounter, but that doesn't put them in line for blame here. Hell, the victim could have decided to take a different, less crowded airline, which would have put them out of the way of this issue. The victim could have driven to where they needed to go instead of taken a plane. The thing is, regardless of what that individual victim did in this one situation, I don't think that you can say that if the victim in the UAL incident had done something differently that this wouldn't have happened somewhere else to someone else, and I think that's at least part of the essence of why victim-blaming just doesn't work all that well here. At the end of the day, most people *are* going to silently and meekly get off a plane they have every right to be on when they are told to do so. The issue here isn't that 100% of the population doesn't do that, it's, well, several things... the people in charge of determining who needs to deboard a plane need to do it better, the airlines need to not hide behind long, arcane contracts, and police probably need to be really, really watchful of not beating the crap out of a person. None of those things involves the victim, like, at all.

Maybe the tricky bit here is that the Just World Fallacy is, like, very deeply ingrained into our psyche as humans? I mean, long before we had airplanes, before we had the relatively rudimentary understanding of weather and natural disasters that we have today, we made up gods that controlled all of that stuff. They were fickle and mean but there was a sense that you could control whether or not your house got washed away in a flood by giving the right offerings and stuff. It seems to me that this is a basic aspect of human understanding - basically it's Type A errors applied to philosophy - and as such it is *really* hard to counteract and also really hard to notice a lot of the time when you're submitting to the fallacy. We *want* stuff to make sense and part of that means blaming victims when they really didn't do anything "wrong" per se.

The bolded bit really got my attention because, by and large, any time someone suggests that the victim could have done something differently it is argued that it is victim blaming. It's as if there's this line between "because of the things the victim did, they deserve whatever they got" and "things the victim could have done X that may have reduced the risk".

Now, I don't think anyone would dispute that there are things that the passenger could have done, and perhaps future passengers should do, differently to avoid being the victim of this type of violence. Identifying these factors (as well as further training for security and so on) could be of benefit to people in future situations.

Failing to learn from this (both from the perspective of a person who does not want to be forcibly removed from a plane and from an airline who wants a person to deplane) is to fall foul of the "just world" fallacy. (i.e. assuming that the passenger has the right to be on the plane, standing by that right was not going to prevent him being hauled off once the airline called in uniformed officers with the apparent authority and intent to do so forcibly). Whether or not the passenger was lawfully justified in retaining their seat, there are things that a passenger can, and future passengers should, do if they want the reduce the risk of facing the same fate - getting up and walking off calmly is a perfect example.

Now is that "victim blaming" or simply a resignation to the reality that, from the point that uniformed personnel were called, he was disembarking from the plane (regardless of his rights) - it was his choice whether that was walking or being dragged off? (like telling bank tellers "just give robbers whatever they ask for, because that's the most likely way to ensure that they don't harm anyone before taking what they want").

tldr...
One can say "to avoid the beating, he should have walked off", without saying that "he deserved a beating" - the implication of fault or blame is not inherent in the first statement, unless you're committing the just world fallacy. Whether or not the beating is deserved or the fault of the passenger - there were things that he could have done (regardless of his rights) that would likely have prevented him coming to physical harm. Assuming that sticking to his rights would have protected him, is the just world fallacy at play.     
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2017, 07:25:21 PM »
The passenger was in the wrong for not leaving, as both his contract and the law require.  If he felt the terms of his contract had been violated, his recourse was to sue, not to refuse to comply with a lawful instruction from the flight crew. This is a fact which does not become counterfactual due to any prior mistreatment by the flight crew or subsequent mistreatment by police, and pointing out that fact does not amount to blaming him for his mistreatment by either.

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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2017, 07:28:53 PM »
Separate from that, there's a post-hoc rationalization fallacy involved in a lot of victim blaming. When Trayvon Martin was killed, the first thing many people did was go looking for evidence of a criminal record or misconduct to say that clearly he 'had it coming.' same with Philando Castile (murdered by a cop during a traffic stop) and with the UA passenger (people found another Asian man, a doctor with a similar name who had been in trouble for malpractice and prescription abuse). This type of "they did this in the past so it's okay that they were beaten/murdered" is using shitty logic to justify an opinion or worldview.
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Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2017, 07:40:31 PM »
The passenger was in the wrong for not leaving, as both his contract and the law require.  If he felt the terms of his contract had been violated, his recourse was to sue, not to refuse to comply with a lawful instruction from the flight crew. This is a fact which does not become counterfactual due to any prior mistreatment by the flight crew or subsequent mistreatment by police, and pointing out that fact does not amount to blaming him for his mistreatment by either.

So, if the passenger's lawful right was to remain on the plane, how would that have changed the outcome. I put it to you that it would not. The airline had decided that the passenger was leaving the flight and they were willing to use force to ensure that happened. The persons arriving for the purposes of using force where the Airline was unable to do so, were going to do the bidding of the airline (for a number of reasons - not least of which is that they are not qualified or authorised to resolve a dispute about legal rights). Whether or not he was in the right, getting off the plane when asked was the safest way to avoid that physical altercation.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2017, 09:35:58 PM »
If the passenger had had a legal right to remain on the plane, he would not have been in the wrong to do so.  He might have been foolish to do so, but that is not at all the same thing.
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Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2017, 09:52:06 PM »
If the passenger had had a legal right to remain on the plane, he would not have been in the wrong to do so.  He might have been foolish to do so, but that is not at all the same thing.

I think that's the point of the OP. There's a fine line between saying "he should have gotten off the plane if he didn't want to get a beating" and "he deserved to get beaten because he stayed on the plane".

The idea that it's a logical fallacy in any way is missing the point. The fact that one determines that "they were physically removed BECAUSE they didn't go of their own free will" is not in dispute. Nor is it a fallacy to claim as such. Once the police were called it was no longer about rights, entitlement - it was about power and the threat of the use of force. He could submit to their power or he could resist. Had he walked off, he would not have been assaulted. Is that in dispute?

His rights have nothing to do with the immediate consequences - his choices did. Could he have done things to protect himself, that's also not in dispute. Therefore saying that his decisions directly related to his harm is not a fallacy. His rights had no bearing on whether he suffered that harm. 
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Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2017, 08:49:45 AM »
Quote from: DG
One can say "to avoid the beating, he should have walked off", without saying that "he deserved a beating" - the implication of fault or blame is not inherent in the first statement, unless you're committing the just world fallacy. Whether or not the beating is deserved or the fault of the passenger - there were things that he could have done (regardless of his rights) that would likely have prevented him coming to physical harm. Assuming that sticking to his rights would have protected him, is the just world fallacy at play.     
No, I don't think one can say "should have" without assigning some fault or blame, because that's how we use "should have" in English.

It's the leap from "could have" to "should have" that is often fallacious. "Could have" is always true and generally independent of any responsibility or blame (though pointing it out can weakly imply blame, just as pointing out, "We could get pizza," is often at least a weak endorsement of getting pizza). But a leap from the irrelevant truth, "Those kids could have stayed home from school and wouldn't have been murdered by that shooter," to the normative (and generally considered false), "Those kids should have stayed home to avoid being murdered at school," is unjustified, and it's that leap that people usually call victim blaming.
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Offline Caffiene

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2017, 09:27:27 AM »
No, I don't think one can say "should have" without assigning some fault or blame, because that's how we use "should have" in English.

I dont think we typically distinguish in common usage between cause-and-effect and "blame". "Should have" is equally used in the sense of "if one wanted to avoid the consequence, this is an action they should have taken that would have accomplished that".

Since the distinction between cause-and-effect and blame is one we dont usually make, I dont think you can say we use "should have" to assign blame - we cant know which is common usage because people dont typically make the distinction and consider which they mean.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2017, 09:33:35 AM »
His rights have nothing to do with the immediate consequences - his choices did. Could he have done things to protect himself, that's also not in dispute. Therefore saying that his decisions directly related to his harm is not a fallacy. His rights had no bearing on whether he suffered that harm.

This conversation is not about whether he suffered that harm, though: that is established.  The question is whether he was (at least partly) responsible for that harm.  And that responsibility is, in my opinion, very much dependent upon whether he had an obligation to leave the plane.  For illustrative purposes: if police burst into my home, demanded I come with them despite having no warrant, and arrested me because I refused, I would not be in any way responsible for my arrest and forcible removal.  If, however, I were trespassing on another person's property, were ordered to leave by police, and refused to do so, I would be at least partially responsible for my arrest and forcible removal.

To be clear, if the police in either case beat me or otherwise used excessive force in removing me, they would be entirely responsible for their use of excessive force.   Nothing I have said here or in any other post should be interpreted otherwise.
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Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2017, 09:40:45 AM »
We may not always make that distinction, but we certainly can, and "should have" is one way to make it, especially in American English. (I think British English more often uses "should" without any normative connotations, especially in counterfactuals.)
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2017, 09:42:39 AM »
No, I don't think one can say "should have" without assigning some fault or blame, because that's how we use "should have" in English.

It's the leap from "could have" to "should have" that is often fallacious. "Could have" is always true and generally independent of any responsibility or blame (though pointing it out can weakly imply blame, just as pointing out, "We could get pizza," is often at least a weak endorsement of getting pizza). But a leap from the irrelevant truth, "Those kids could have stayed home from school and wouldn't have been murdered by that shooter," to the normative (and generally considered false), "Those kids should have stayed home to avoid being murdered at school," is unjustified, and it's that leap that people usually call victim blaming.

I agree with you that "should" implies obligation, and if one says, "he should have gotten off the plane if he didn't want to get a beating" one is assigning responsibility to him for his beating.  The use of "should" where "could" is appropriate is at best very sloppy and misleading.

However, I think it is entirely reasonable to say that this man "should" have gotten off the plane in this case because he had a legal obligation to do so, and it is also reasonable to say that he was therefore responsible for his forcible removal.  And I do not think that by doing so one implies that he he is responsible for the use of excessive force against him.
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Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2017, 11:00:11 AM »
I don't agree with your assessment of this case, but it's true that while "should have" implies some responsibility or blame, responsibility doesn't imply that the consequences are deserved.

"I should have charged my phone before I left" means it's my own fault I couldn't make an emergency call when I needed to, but it doesn't mean I deserved to die in a pool of my own blood because I couldn't call an ambulance.
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Offline superdave

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2017, 11:10:16 AM »
Victim blaming is wrong, but is not exactly a logical fallacy.  It's like saying Albany is closer to Seattle than NYC because Seattle is next to Albany.  The statement is false but the reasoning is correct, so it's not a logical fallacy even though it's wrong.

We know that victims do not ask for it.  By definition, if they want something to happen, they are not victims.  So saying someone should be vindicated of a crime because their victim really wanted it to happen is false because the fact they are basing their conclusion on is false.


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Offline superdave

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2017, 11:15:28 AM »
The passenger was in the wrong for not leaving, as both his contract and the law require.  If he felt the terms of his contract had been violated, his recourse was to sue, not to refuse to comply with a lawful instruction from the flight crew. This is a fact which does not become counterfactual due to any prior mistreatment by the flight crew or subsequent mistreatment by police, and pointing out that fact does not amount to blaming him for his mistreatment by either.

The United example contains several specific instances, which must be considered individually.
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