I am looking for reference recommendation on the subject of analyzing responsibility in victim situations. I am curious which philosophers have written on that subject, ranging in scope from individual crimes all the way up to war crimes and genocide.

E.g., the modern prevailing narrative, at least here in the West, frequently discourages culpability analysis any deeper than blaming the carrier of the crime itself. To clarify, I am not looking for some vindication of victim blaming but that mainstream encouraged scope is shallow for my intellectual standards. For example, to which degree can the victim be, not held legally responsible, but to some degree morally accountable for not doing enough to prevent what happened to them? In a fair and balanced analysis of different concrete scenarios.

So I'm not satisfied with the general sentiment that any further dissection of an incident beyond obviously blaming the final executor of the act is "victim blaming" and should be discouraged. Therefore, I would like to research philosophical treatises on how each and every one of us, and we as a collective, can do our best to prevent catastrophes by avoiding prior exposure to it. If an angry dog bites a person who foolishly tried to play with it, with him, the usual moral imperatives are to blame the dog owner, which is fair. But shouldn't we assign at least some responsibility to the bitten person for not being prudent enough not to play with a strange dog?

Which philosophers have delved in this topic, especially in a dialectical format? I'm not looking to have a discussion whether my motivating premises are crazy or not -- simply for reference to philosophers and their works who worked on that subject.

  • downvote, really ?
    – amphibient
    Jul 19, 2017 at 19:51
  • I haven't found anything yet
    – amphibient
    Jul 19, 2017 at 20:44
  • There's a kind of implicit rightist framing of your question -- I'm not the downvoter but would definitely suggest stating your research question more clearly and straightforwardly, then state whatever hypotheses you may have formed
    – Joseph Weissman
    Jul 19, 2017 at 22:04
  • "rightist framing of your question" ? What do you mean by that ? As in political right or connoting self-righteousness ?
    – amphibient
    Jul 19, 2017 at 22:09
  • 3
    The doctrines of contributory and comparative negligence of victims are well-established in common law, and outside of hot button issues, like rape and abuse, are not that controversial, see Oberdiek's Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts. For an academic critique of "innocent victim" vs "pure evil" stereotypes see Baumeister (he is a social psychologist, though).
    – Conifold
    Jul 19, 2017 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


Francois Laruelle's General Theory of Victims answers pretty directly to the terms of your research. From the notes on the text:

Transforming Joseph de Maistre's adage that the executioner is the cornerstone of society, General Theory of Victims instead proposes the victim as the cornerstone of humanity and the key figure for contemporary thought. Laruelle condemns philosophy for participating in and legitimating the great persecutions of the twentieth century, and lays out a new vision of victim-oriented ethics. To do this, he engages the resources of both quantum physics and theology in order to adapt a key concept of non-philosophy, Man-in-person, for a new understanding of the victim. As Man-in-person, the victim is no longer exclusively defined by suffering, but has the capacity to rise up against the world's persecution. Based on this, Laruelle develops a new ethical role for the intellectual in which he does not merely 'represent' the victim, but imitates or 'clones' it, thereby assisting the victim's uprising within thought.


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