Author Topic: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim  (Read 1745 times)

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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2017, 11:55:58 AM »
It's complex.

It's accurate to say, "he wouldn't have incurred those injuries if he would have complied as he was legally obliged to."

It's also accurate to say, "it seems likely that excessive force was used in removing him."

Neither contradicts the other--so while you can be true and accurate in saying the first, I think maybe it's a case of "victim blaming" if you don't also acknowledge the second.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2017, 12:14:09 PM »
It is simply not logically fallacious so say that a person who refuses to comply with a lawful instruction of a flight crew is responsible for his forcible removal.  It might be more complete to add "but of course he is not responsible for any excessive force used against him," and it might seem unnecessary or even unkind to say it at all to this man in light of the injuries he received and the excessive force that was used.  But those things do not affect the logical validity of the statement.
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2017, 12:25:30 PM »
It is simply not logically fallacious so say that a person who refuses to comply with a lawful instruction of a flight crew is responsible for his forcible removal. It might be more complete to add "but of course he is not responsible for any excessive force used against him," and it might seem unnecessary or even unkind to say it at all to this man in light of the injuries he received and the excessive force that was used.  But those things do not affect the logical validity of the statement.

I think that's well-said, we're more off into non-logical-fallacy victim blaming territory (which you avoid by the caveat you included).

Victim blaming which falls into logical fallacy might be something like:

Man is shot by cops while running away after committing a crime.

Response: "Well he shouldn't have committed that crime," or "he got what was coming to him." <---being shot while running away is not a legal nor ethical consequence for committing a crime, so these type responses fall into the logical fallacy realm of victim blaming?
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Offline Billzbub

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #33 on: April 19, 2017, 12:34:07 PM »
So it appears that blaming the victim is fallacious because it cannot be said that a victim's consequences are (definitely) his or her fault.
Conversely the accusation of victim blaming is fallacious because it contains a false premise and is, at least in '17 parlance, an ad hominem.

The SGU panel probably didn't bite on this precisely because it's a double edged nonsense sword, but I wish this were pointed out on the show because this idea is thrown around without critical consideration far too often. The idea is lazy and misguided in both directions and should be called out, culled out, discarded in favor of stronger stuff.

So as I think we've seen through this discussion, the panel may have been to simplistic in their discussion.  They took an issue that is on a spectrum and made it more binary.  A cancer patient may in fact be partially to blame for the cancer if they've lived a lifestyle that has been shown to cause cancer (smoking and what not).

However, I think that it is a touchy topic for the rogues because many times, people blame the cancer patient for not eating organic, not using supplements that they believe prevent cancer, not getting acupuncture, etc.  I think the rogues were coming at it from the perspective that it is a horrible thing when you have a bunch of loons saying that you brought it on yourself for not using whatever woo they believe in.

Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #34 on: April 19, 2017, 07:26:12 PM »
Lets put it another way:

(Q) Would the passenger's injuries have occurred had the passenger elected to comply with the request of the airline (whether or not lawful)?
(A) No. (Accordingly, If the passenger wanted to avoid injury, the passenger should have walked off the plane - this is logically consistent)

(Q) Once the airline called for the uniformed personnel, was there anything that could have been done by the passenger to prevent that use of force (whether or not lawful)?
(A) Yes. (Accordingly, if the passenger wanted to avoid being the subject of force, the passenger should have walked off the plane).

Neither of these state whether the passenger deserved the consequences - only that there are things that the passenger would be well advised to do to avoid that outcome (whether or not the outcome is justified).

As someone who writes for a living, I would suggest that the between could and should is that should is advice about conduct whereas could refers to capacity or ability. You "should" apply pressure and compression bandages to the snake bite. That does not, in any way, mean that you deserve to die if you do not apply the pressure or that you deserved to be bitten in the first place. It expresses a preferred cause of action in the opinion of the speaker, without the judgement any contrary decision is wrong. Choosing to die rather than apply pressure to the snake bite is not "wrong", it's just not the course of action that I would choose. It does not involve blame, as it does not impose a duty to behave in a certain way, where the actor has falls short of that duty.

The underlying issue appears to be if I says you "should" do a thing (because it's what I think is best) then failure to do that means you deserve a negative consequence. Failure to follow advice does not mean that you deserve a penalty or negative consequence.  I would suggest blame requires a breach of duty, which is well beyond acting contrary to advice.

I've not, at this time, heard anyone one suggest that the deserved the injuries that he suffered, but that appears to be the strawman that is being argued against (saying it was deserved would be a fallacy). Equally, it was within the passenger's power to prevent the injury (whether or not he had any duty to do so).

To keep it on the original topic, the question is whether "blaming the victim" is a logical fallacy. I would again suggest that 'blame' requires a duty, and should does not impose a duty (as it is advisory), "must" imposes a duty. Further, demanding that one must not consider the conduct of the victim is falling foul of the just-world fallacy (i.e that it only happened because it was justified).

It is simply not logically fallacious so say that a person who refuses to comply with a lawful instruction of a flight crew is responsible for his forcible removal. It might be more complete to add "but of course he is not responsible for any excessive force used against him," and it might seem unnecessary or even unkind to say it at all to this man in light of the injuries he received and the excessive force that was used.  But those things do not affect the logical validity of the statement.

I think that's well-said, we're more off into non-logical-fallacy victim blaming territory (which you avoid by the caveat you included).

Victim blaming which falls into logical fallacy might be something like:

Man is shot by cops while running away after committing a crime.

Response: "Well he shouldn't have committed that crime," or "he got what was coming to him." <---being shot while running away is not a legal nor ethical consequence for committing a crime, so these type responses fall into the logical fallacy realm of victim blaming?

While they may not be legal or ethical consequences, they are certainly foreseeable and related consequences. I suppose the issue relates to the major, unstated assumption that "foreseeable" means "deserved" (whereas I would consider it a known risk). In particular, would the shooting have occurred if they had not committed the crime? Whether or not justified, it is reasonable to foresee the risk and logical to advise (see above about could v should) against a cause of action that would expose an individual to that risk.

"He got what was coming to him" - is perhaps closer to the fallacy, as it ceases to be advisory. However, it could simply attest to the foreseeable nature of that outcome, which does not apportion blame.
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Offline Belgarath

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #35 on: April 19, 2017, 07:36:22 PM »
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.

This ^ you captured my thoughts on this quite well.

I think blaming the victim might be a logical fallacy when the victim is acting perfectly within their rights and we then blame the victim for any negative consequence.  But if the victim is acting outside of their rights, then they do incur some amount of the blame. And yes,  had the police acted with the minimum amount of force required to remove the man, and he was STILL injured in some way, I would say that is his fault.
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Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #36 on: April 19, 2017, 08:14:51 PM »
After re-reading this, and Belgarath's comment above, perhaps the difference (noting the Australian contingent in particular) is the focus on "rights".

In particular a view that "If I am acting in accordance with my rights, no one is permitted to make any comment with regard to my actions". The assumption being that "I was allowed to do what I was doing. So there the matter ends in so far as my conduct is considered". Perhaps for cultural reasons (including exposure to deadly animals) the idea of "Meh, you got eaten by a shark, well you did get in the water..." is not seen as a blame game, but a recognition of the assumption of risk. This is changing, perhaps as a result of exposure to US culture, with an increased reliance on "rights" as an argument against any consideration of their own conduct.

You walk into the home fans end wearing the away teams colours you're going to get punched in the face. Do you deserve it? No, but it's a known risk. Consequently, sympathy is reduced accordingly and you may be advised "not to do it again" (because this isn't a just world - one cannot assume that others will respect your rights). 

This leads us to could, should and the victim blaming fallacy.

In some cases "should" is seen as an infringement or limitation on rights, and as such is rejected in some cultural circles. While in others it is considered advice (perhaps unwelcome) on the safe exercise of rights, without imposing a duty to follow said advice.

Saying the victim "deserved" a consequence is a logical fallacy because the relationship is not causal (unless the consequence is a stated premise). Saying that "Y should be done to prevent X (where X is a foreseeable risk)" does not appear to be a logical fallacy (assuming Y actually does have a relationship to X).
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #37 on: April 19, 2017, 09:15:55 PM »
Perhaps it is a difference between Australian and American usage, but to me the word should implies obligation.  I would never use it the way you say that you are.
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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #38 on: April 19, 2017, 11:06:53 PM »
Yeah, I see both "accordingly" in DG's post as logically invalid leaps, somewhat akin to an is-ought fallacy in the sense that there *is* something you could have done to avoid a consequence therefore you *ought to* have done that thing.

There are times when a "should have" merely asserts an action that might have prevented a later negative event, but I think more often (especially when referring to someone other than the speaker) it suggests that the action was a good idea at the time and that failing to do it was a bad idea at the time.

It assigns blame, in other words.
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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #39 on: April 19, 2017, 11:59:13 PM »

Conversely the accusation of victim blaming is fallacious because it contains a false premise and is, at least in '17 parlance, an ad hominem.

Well, it's only a fallacy if it's being made in support of an argument or a claim.

Just making an accusation like that isn't a fallacy. It's a claim.


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Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2017, 01:00:11 AM »
Perhaps it is a difference between Australian and American usage, but to me the word should implies obligation.  I would never use it the way you say that you are.

If I say "You should see a movie" does that create an obligation? What about "you should pay your taxes", does that appropriately reflect any duty or does it imply choice? "You should get new brake pads"?

Maybe it is a product of the cultural differences. I would be very unlikely to see "should" when directed towards me, as anything other than a recommendation.

Equally, you "should have seen it", "should have paid your taxes" or "should have gotten new break pads" do not imply recommendation or preference. No blame is implied without a separate provision creating the duty (in the case of taxes) - I suppose that depends on whether you take the position that if you failed to take advice that you deserve to suffer the consequences (where as I would say it's a calculated risk, not something deserved).

Yeah, I see both "accordingly" in DG's post as logically invalid leaps, somewhat akin to an is-ought fallacy in the sense that there *is* something you could have done to avoid a consequence therefore you *ought to* have done that thing.

There are times when a "should have" merely asserts an action that might have prevented a later negative event, but I think more often (especially when referring to someone other than the speaker) it suggests that the action was a good idea at the time and that failing to do it was a bad idea at the time.

It assigns blame, in other words.

Again, you ought to do a thing only if you want to avoid the consequence. That does not mean that you deserve to suffer harm. It's a bad idea to stand on the top rung of a ladder, that does not mean that a person who does so deserves to be a quadriplegic (whether is it good or bad, it "is"). I don't know where you get that value judgement of "deserving" an outcome.

Further, Is-ought is not a logical fallacy. It is a philosophical position. It's a suggestion that people superimpose that which "is" inherently correct and the way it "ought to" be.  However, in the above scenario we are looking purely at the relationship between the events - not whether the outcome is good or bad. There is of course an unstated presumption that the "victim" wanted to avoid being a victim. The closest we get is the naturalistic fallacy (i.e if it's natural it's good) - but I make no such assertion about good or bad (nether saying it is good nor bad that the person gets dragged from the plane), only identifying the things that were within the power of the victim and should have been done by the victim (assuming they wanted to reduce the risk of harm). 

In fact any suggestion of deserving would be "illogical", since it presupposes the unstated and unsupported proposition of "justice" and "deserving".

"Could" does not avoid this issue  because the could advances the assumption that there was a thing within their power that could have prevented or reduced the harm., and they chose not to do it. The judgement comes from the assumption that if there is a thing you can do to reduce your risk of harm, you have a duty to do so (victim blaming), it is proposed that we maintain a "lily-white victim" (where we must never turn our minds to the lawful actions of the victim, and thinks they could or should have done if they didn't want to be harmed). As above, I reject this as the "just-world fallacy" (nothing justifies this,therefore we must not think about what the victim did or could have done). It's a false dilemma.

We can both, apportion blame where it is due and advise the victim of what could and should be done to protect themselves in future (assuming they want to do so).
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Offline Belgarath

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #41 on: April 20, 2017, 04:27:04 AM »
In this case, I think the way I view it is that blaming the victim is only a logical fallacy if the victim didn't, in fact, do something wrong.  In the airline case, the customer *should* have gotten off the airplane in order to avoid, at a minimum, detainment and arrest.  But just because he was in the wrong, that does not justify the wrong that was done to him.


Take a completely different case, for example the victim of a robbery.  That victim didn't do anything wrong, and hence saying 'oh you shouldn't have had your wallet out' would be victim blaming because it implies that the victim did something wrong.

But you might say 'oh he shouldn't have waved his wallet around with $100 bills showing' and that may be the case, but it seems to me that no blame can be assigned in this case because there's no real prohibition on waving your wallet around.

It seems to me that one could use the term 'should' differently in those two contexts, but I think, at least as I've heard and used the term, it does create at least the impression when it's used in BOTH of the above cases that there was an obligation on the victim to do something differently to avoid the consequences.

In the cases that DG cites above, 'You should see a movie' there's a different context, and it doesn't necessarily create an obligation. 

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Offline Caffiene

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #42 on: April 20, 2017, 04:59:22 AM »
In the cases that DG cites above, 'You should see a movie' there's a different context, and it doesn't necessarily create an obligation.

I dont really see a difference in context. (Although I am an Australian, as already identified.) The only real change is tense ("should" vs "should have").

In both cases "You should see a movie" and "you shouldnt show your wallet" they are advice on an optimum course of action for a certain outcome. Seeing a recommended movie has an increased chance of enjoyment vs not watching a movie, or watching a random movie without a recommendation; keeping your wallet hidden has an increased chance of not attracting criminal attention. Another example might be "Cars overheating? You should get the radiator checked."

If we put the wallet example in present tense and speaking directly to somebody: "Oh, you shouldnt wave your wallet around, it might attract criminals", to me that doesnt sound like blame. If the only thing that then changes is the tense, to say "You shouldnt have", I think any inference of blame is a bias on the part of the listener and not something we can reasonably say was a part of the sentence. We might infer blame when it can equally be interpreted as advice for the future or hypothetical advice - "In such a situation, you shouldnt ..." to me is the exact same semantic intent as "In such a situation, you shouldnt have ..." where it is just an added reference to a relevant example.
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Offline Fast Eddie B

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #43 on: April 20, 2017, 07:25:43 AM »
It's called the Just World Fallacy.

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/

Thanks, I had not heard of that one and it has a lot of applications.

Application #1: A friend of Karen's was discussing the horrible Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. She commented, "You know, not many of those killed were Christians."

Application #2: A friend of Karen's had been diagnosed with an incurable, terminal cancer. A friend of mine said, "Well, you know she and her developer husband screwed a lot of people."

That second resulted in me terminating a long term friendship - it was the proverbial straw.

Yet that fallacy is just SO widespread. It's personified in "Everything happens for a reason", which is especially prominent among Christians. I'm glad that I can now at least label it.
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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2017, 07:31:46 AM »
The fact that any particular incident may have been the victim's fault is not relevant to whether blaming the victim is a fallacy.

All As are B. This B is a C. Therefore all As are C.  That is a logical fallacy.  The fact that some As are Cs doesn't alter the fact that the statement is a fallacy.

A fallacy doesn't mean it's wrong it means it is not proof.


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