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Obviously, one should not be expected to take all possible measures to prevent a crime that could happen against them. Also, it is clear that this doesn't question or influence the guilty of the criminal itself.

Let me give you an example. Suppose i parked my car and let the windows open. We could even make it extreme, saying that i also let the keys inside it.

My question is: to what extent may i be considered guilty, deserving or even dumb if someone steals my car?

Stealing is a crime, and it is not (i think) any less of a crime because there were appropriate conditions for it to happen. But what about me? How guilty am i?

I would also like to make an analogy with a well-known point made by feminism: some people say using short or sensual clothes is somewhat an invitation to rape, and so that kind of behaviour should be avoided. Some go even further, saying that a woman who dresses "inappropriately" deserve to be raped. I strongly disagree with that: people should be free to chose what they want to wear, without being "punished" for that choice.

However, it not possible to negate the fact that there is a set of behaviours that could prevent rape, or make it less likely to happen. One of these is the dressing style.

I think both cases may or should be analysed using the same moral laws, as they appear inherently similar. If that's the case, it seems to me that we only have two morally coherent options: to leave the crime prevention entirely to the state, and act as totally free people (which would make things like locking the door to your home morally wrong, since the problem would really be the crime, not your action), or to take part in the crime prevention and sacrifice a bit of our freedom.

  • "I strongly disagree with that: people should be free to chose what they want to wear, without being "punished" for that choice. However, it not possible to negate the fact that there is a set of behaviours that could prevent rape, or make it less likely to happen. One of these is the dressing style." -- You seem undecided on this point. What do you think? – user4894 Apr 5 '14 at 0:31
  • It seems like your question is directed more at the rape case than generically whether one can bear responsibility of some kind for the consequences of a crime against oneself... – virmaior Apr 5 '14 at 2:18
  • Well, im not really sure what the answer should be. I am undecided, indeed. : ) As for the question being more directed at the rape, it seems to me it is the clearer, and harder case, to decide. It's much harder to say "just wear those clothes" than to say "just leave the windows closed". But i do think they carry the same moral weight. – alansammarone Apr 5 '14 at 13:42
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You used three adjectives:

  • Guilty - the legal question
  • Dumb - an question about ones intelligence
  • Deserving - a tricky one encompassing both of the above, as well as having moral side

Legal

I don't think anyone should consider you guilty for having your car stolen, no matter how easy you make it. It's illegal to steal cars. The person who stole it is guilty. Law is very particular about what is deserved.

Intelligence

It's generally considered pretty stupid to leave your car unlocked with your keys in it in a place where it might get stolen. However, if you had some other reason or principle which lead you to believe that that was the way you should act then it might be considered brave. If you are making a calculated stand by doing it then it's not being stupid, it's accepting the costs of living how you think you are entitled to live.

Do people deserve the consequences of bravery? No, they suffer them. They think the consequence are unjust but are willing to accept them in order to affect change or defend their own integrity.

Moral

From the various senses in which one could use "deserving", the that is left out from the above concerns morality. If you are deserving in this sense it would imply that you have done something morally wrong yourself. If you are deserving, the theft is a fitting punishment for your amoral behaviour.

Is it immoral to trust other people not to steal your car?

I think very few people would say yes to this (objectivists, perhaps?).

You wouldn't get money from insurance though...

Insurance is a different matter. It's just about financial risk. In signing an insurance contract you are accepting that you wont expose the insurance company to a level of risk greater than a certain amount. In the sense you would be in breach of your contract by leaving your car unlocked and you might well be considered deserving of no insurance money. I've known people to confuse insurability with moral responsibility... a real shame (and very widespread).

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is nothing above that suggests anyone has a moral or legal responsibility to prevent people committing crimes against them. However, for other reasons it might be a good idea not to take unnecessary risks and keep your insurance premiums low.

You have things that are required (not stealing cars, not rape etc) and you have things that are permissible (lock your car or don't, wear what you want). Preventing crimes to yourself is permissible (as long as it isn't criminal itself), but it is not required. The worst quality a permissible act could have in the context here is being stupid or risky.

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