The Victim’s Perspective

Image: “Salle d’audience du tribunal de Senlis” by Thomas Couture (ca. 1860-1869)

The Victim’s Perspective: How Thinking About the Victim Can Provide Answers to Philosophical Issues of Responsibility

Marianna Leventi

Most work on moral responsibility focuses on the requirements that render an agent responsible, open to blame, and on the corresponding reactive attitudes. For example, the requirement of moral competence for an agent to be counted responsible has been extensively discussed by different authors.[1] This has left the victim’s perspective as an afterthought. I suggest that the challenge posed by the unfortunate normative circumstances of wrongdoers[2] can be met if we change the narrative and consider the victim’s welfare.[3]

Many philosophers support the idea that people can only be morally responsible for things within the scope of their knowledge and understanding. The idea is that if someone has been brought up to be ignorant of the wrongness of a behavior, this renders that person not responsible for behaving wrongly as an adult, on the assumption that ignorance is an excuse for wrongdoing.

The core argument, then, is that ignorance excuses wrongful actions. Agents can be responsible only when they are aware of the wrongness of their actions or for the ignorance which led them to commit the wrongful act. This is called the epistemic condition[4] and is one of the conditions required for the attribution of moral responsibility, the other being the control condition. For the purposes of this article, I will assume a connection between the two conditions, namely that if you are ignorant or unaware of the wrongness of your actions, you cannot control your behavior, so you cannot avoid performing those actions.

This set of conditions, however, neglects the victim’s perspective. In this article, I will argue that agents who are ignorant of moral truths nevertheless can be held morally responsible, an argument with implications for both the acknowledgment and the compensation of victims. In so doing, I will mainly use the example of Mr. Potter as given by William FitzPatrick.[5] Mr. Potter is described as an educated and successful businessman with a faulty moral compass. He mistreats his employees but does not appear to understand that his behavior is wrong and his actions are hurtful. Mr. Potter is ignorant of moral norms, for example the idea that we should not exploit each other even when we have the chance; hence, he has a certain kind of ignorance regarding the nature of his behavior.

If the argument of the unavoidable influence of upbringing is accepted, then Mr. Potter cannot be responsible for his behavior since he is not aware of acting wrongly and his moral ignorance cannot be traced to himself. It is unlikely that he had any control over the type of moral education he received, and he cannot be blamed for moral ignorance since he could not have done anything to alleviate it, and even if there was something he could have done, it is not reasonable to expect him to have done so. Therefore, Mr. Potter cannot be blamed for his behavior when he mistreats his employees.

The same pattern can be applied to other examples of wrongdoers, for instance slaveholders, who could be responsible for acting wrongly only if they knew what they were doing was wrong or if they were the cause of their own moral ignorance. The same, again, would hold for agents like racist politicians and misogynists. Thus, given that many harmful behaviors stem from circumstances that are not directly within an agent’s control, we can accept that many of these behaviors cannot really be traced back to the people who are harming others.

There are many reasons why this type of argument about upbringing might strike one as plausible. It is intuitive that people cannot be responsible for things they are ignorant about, unless they are responsible for their own ignorance. However, if we cannot assert that responsibility judgments are appropriate for such people who systematically harm others, then additional problems arise, problems that impact not only the philosophical debate about responsibility but also everyday interactions.

The main drawback of this argument is that it harms the victims of wrongful actions. For instance, if Mr. Potter is judged not to be blameworthy, then the wrongful behavior cannot be adequately connected to him. Mr. Potter’s link to the wrongful behavior becomes unsure and debatable because of the involvement of other factors such as upbringing.

Given that it is the connection of the action with the perpetrator that allows the victim to assign blame and request acknowledgment and meaningful compensation, victims may be prevented from posing a legitimate demand to the wrongdoer. Here, I follow Margaret Urban Walker’s argument that in order for moral repair to take place, victims need some type of acknowledgment from the person that harmed them.[6] For example, if Mr. Potter is not blameworthy for mistreating his employees, then the demands that can be placed on him are significantly limited, if indeed there are any at all.

An alternative for the employees would be to blame the structural injustice that allows Mr. Potter to mistreat them, but not Mr. Potter himself. They could demand acknowledgment of their mistreatment and some form of compensation from the state or society. Of course, it is possible to think that an unjust social structure is at fault for people’s culpable behavior. However, it is uncertain if there would be any benefits for the victims if they followed such a strategy. Change at a structural level is a highly challenging process. Also, I assume it is implausible that people would blame the structure in the same way they would blame an agent.Finally, changing individual agents could lead to social change.

More importantly, though, the employees are harmed by a specific agent at specific moments in time and not by an abstract societal structure. There is an actual person who mistreated them, but they cannot, as victims, place any demands on him because he is not considered blameworthy. Blaming society would misrepresent the act as a mere consequence of unjust circumstances instead of an act that the perpetrator committed. The victims would have to endure the mistreatment and see the wrongdoers profit and thrive by adopting harmful practices.

A possibility for keeping the wrongdoers blameless and thus honoring the influence of upbringing on people’s lives while also compensating the victims is to bring in a third party, such as the state or the community, to reinstate the victims to their previous social standing without Mr. Potter having to acknowledge his responsibility for the situation. This appears to be a promising compromise, but issues could still arise. If the connection between victim and perpetrator is broken, then the victims lose their standing in demanding compensation from the perpetrators. Consequently, the victims’ demand would be restricted to whatever compensation the third party is willing to grant.

In addition, reparation by third parties does not always have the same worth or meaning as reparation by the perpetrator. In many cases, especially when the perpetrators appear to be socially thriving regardless of the pain they cause, third-party compensation would seem patronizing more than anything else. The compensation would only be rendered meaningful to the victims if the perpetrators acknowledge and accept that they have wronged the victims and that their social standing will be brought down because of it. Further, by accepting the burden of the wrongful action, the perpetrators exclude the possibility that the victims are to be blamed,[7] acknowledging that the action was due to their own failings and not because of anything the victims did.

The victims cannot be favored in these ways if the perpetrator is not blameworthy. Therefore, although third-party compensation can sometimes provide a practical solution, I suggest it should not be the standard practice, except in cases where the perpetrators are unable to offer any type of compensation, for example, if they are dead.

Compensation itself can come in many forms. Acknowledging one’s mistake and wrongful behavior, and apologizing for it, could be a start. It has been empirically shown that apologizing can encourage forgiveness and amelioration.[8] Next, trying to make amends by providing benefits ranging from the psychological to the financial can be of immense help in remediating the unfair position in which the victims find themselves. The point is that the perpetrators accept that their behavior harmed the victims, even if they do not understand it and seem to accept blame solely in order to pacify the victims, and that they take steps to rectify the situation.

Such compensation signals that the victim is a respected member of society and not one who is somehow inferior and open to being wronged in the future. In addition, I believe that to the extent the perpetrators accept the blame for their harmful behaviors, we will have fewer occasions of victim blaming, a phenomenon that harms all vulnerable groups.

Meaningful compensation cannot be demanded if the wrongdoers cannot be blamed for their harmful behavior. Requiring the victims to break the link between the action and the perpetrator and thus not blame the perpetrator causes significant harm to the victims. If the victims’ well-being is considered, then, we should not accept an argument that raises the standard for responsibility to the point that it becomes almost impossible to actually judge a person responsible for an action.

Despite notable exceptions, such as the work of Matthew Talbert[9] as well as his recent collaboration with Jessica Wolfendale and the work of Alexander Edlich,[10] the victim’s perspective is often overlooked in the responsibility debate. The main focus, instead, is on the competence of the perpetrators and the fairness of blame, given factors that may render the perpetrator morally ignorant. William FitzPatrick, for example, talks about reasonable expectations of the perpetrator’s behavior,[11] while Neil Levy highlights the subjective rationality of the perpetrator,[12] and Philip Robichaud replies to Levy’s thoughts on the internalist account of rationality.[13] Although these articles respond to each other and therefore must be aligned in their objective, it is evident that there is a pattern of methodological examination that focuses on the perpetrator.

What is neglected, however, is the matter of fairness in light of the harm the victims have experienced. My theoretical structure and what I will call the “victim’s perspective” framework try to fill this lacuna in the responsibility literature. Philosophical research has to emphasize the victim’s point of view as much as that of the perpetrators. The two perspectives, in fact, can complement each other to render responsibility judgments more precise and fair for both parties.

Taking the victim’s perspective means that, instead of victims only being allowed to blame the wrongdoers if they are found to be blameworthy, victims can blame the wrongdoers simply because of the harm that has been inflicted on them. This blame, which forms the basis of any demand for acknowledgment and compensation, must not depend on the circumstances of the perpetrators, which should be a secondary consideration. The focus should be on the needs and the well-being of the victims.

The structure of the argument for the victim’s perspective might sound consistent, at least to some extent, with the legal framework of tort law where, according to Erin Kelly, victims can demand compensation when there is evidence that links the perpetrator and the wrongful action, even if the latter was committed by accident.[14] In this framework, the circumstances that brought the perpetrator to perform the harmful act are not considered. Thus, the link between the variable of the perpetrator’s blameworthiness and the variable of the inflicted harm is broken.

It is important here to reiterate the difference between accepting that certain actions will have negative consequences and actually understanding that an action is wrong and should not be performed because it harms other people. I believe that it can be psychologically significant for the victim to distinguish between these ideas. Again, here, I am following Walker’s arguments for moral repair, where the main focus rests on the harm done and not the perpetrators’ state. The victim’s perspective has a similar structure: deciding whether the wrongdoer is responsible can be dependent on the needs of the victim.

However, there are substantial differences between the philosophical suggestion of the victim’s perspective and tort law. For example, the victim’s perspective may put the victims’ well-being first as a moral priority, but it does not need to disregard the perpetrator’s point of view entirely; it simply need not assess the perpetrator’s capacities according to the criterion of blameworthiness.

In addition, it is important to underline that the victim’s perspective emphasizes meaningful compensation for the victim. Financial compensation, which tort law usually determines as fair compensation, may not be what the victims need. Of course, in some cases, financial compensation is very important and the only possible compensation that a victim can get, given legal and social structures, but more than anything, the victim needs to regain standing, which can demand more complex arrangements than financial aid. Consequently, while the primary interest of the victim’s perspective is the victim’s well-being, it does not follow the strict approach that tort law demands.

Both in the victim’s perspective and in tort law, blame is used to place a demand on the perpetrators, but more importantly, in the victim’s perspective, blame works as a tool in the victims’ hands, one that can enable them to regain their status and live a better life as respected members of society. Blame, here, need not be based on a judgment of ill will[15] or on an emotional response to ill will.[16] It can just be based on the well-being of the victim. This understanding of blame follows the framework that Michelle Ciurria calls “apt blame” and, among other things, “functions to realize or promote intersectional aims.”[17]

It is evident that blame can take different manifestations, for example expressed and silent blame.[18] Expressed blame helps victims reclaim their societal position and demand compensation from the perpetrator. Silent blame cannot do that;[19] however, it can be a reactive force that will help victims take the opportunity to demand compensation or rectify the situation whenever this becomes possible. For example, the mistreated employees may not be able to openly blame Mr. Potter, given their socioeconomic circumstances. However, blaming him in their own minds could be a motivating factor to act when the opportunity arises.

The term “victim” can be problematic, and in some respects, it is not to be preferred.[20] For the purposes of this article, I use it to describe persons who have been harmed systematically, which makes it applicable to a wide range of cases. The victim’s perspective, then, has the potential to reinforce the epistemic standing of all disadvantaged people.

The key advantages of the victim’s perspective can be treated in two main categories: methodological and forward-looking. The former helps respond to typical issues that have arisen within the responsibility debate. The latter suggests how the victim’s perspective can provide a consequentialist argument that will enable moral progress.

Arguably, one methodological advantage of taking the victim’s perspective is that it will provide a stable ground for specific blame and responsibility judgments. The addition of a different perspective as a reason to blame provides a balanced judgment about responsibility attribution, which cannot occur if the attributions of blame are solely dependent on the perpetrator’s moral competence or relevant moral knowledge. With the victim’s well-being as the main focus and the basis of responsibility attribution, normative expectations can be set about how the victims should have been treated. Similarly, Fitzpatrick’s “reasonable expectations”[21] of how the perpetrator should behave could be based on the victim’s perspective.

This leads to the other advantage, which can be characterized as forward-looking. The victim’s perspective facilitates moral progress since responsibility attribution is not dependent on or influenced by the perpetrators’ abilities. Consequently, while ignorance poses an obstacle for the moral understanding of perpetrators, it cannot pose as an exempting factor. The forward-looking justification of the victim’s perspective is reinforced by its proactive and educational aspect. Victims learn that when their standing is breached, there will be compensation; similarly, future perpetrators know that they will have to compensate their victims.

At the same time, though, it must be conceded that the victim’s perspective is a backward-looking account as its main interest is to compensate the victim following previous harm and loss of social standing. This, of course, presupposes that the victim’s social standing was a relatively good one. A wronged slave, for instance, cannot regain social standing if not viewed as a participant of the community with any type of social standing to begin with.

Finally, the victim’s perspective fills in a missing epistemic and moral standpoint in the responsibility literature, where the victim’s needs and demands for compensation have been overshadowed by other considerations. The literature further neglects issues such as how harm hurts the victims or to what extent structural injustice may render victims unable to blame the wrongdoers. The gradual integration of the victim’s perspective into the responsibility debate can enable meaningful dialogue between perspectives, shedding light on overlooked aspects of the debate.

Some objections can be raised against the victim’s perspective, which I will try to respond to below while describing the structure of the victim’s perspective framework in greater detail. One such objection is that the victim’s perspective does not blame agents for the right reasons. As outlined above, the skeptical argument for responsibility holds that if the perpetrators cannot be blamed or are blocked from blaming responses due to their ignorance, we cannot judge them as blameworthy. To this, I would respond with Gideon Rosen’s argument that if we accept the implications of moral incompetence, we should suspend all judgments of responsibility.[22]

Further, Wlodek Rabinowicz and Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen have investigated the idea of wrong and right reasons.[23] In the present context, while the focus of the responsibility debate has been whether we are blaming for the right reasons, it could very well be that we are exempting or excusing for the wrong reasons. The question is why we would act at the victim’s expense by choosing not to blame the perpetrator, who may or may not suffer from some kind of moral ignorance, instead of acting at the perpetrators’ expense by assigning blame to them.

While responsibility theorists have generally prioritized the rights of the perpetrator, there is no good reason to assume this standpoint. On the contrary, a prevailing idea in theories of justice, for instance in the work of John Rawls,[24] is that priority should be given to the one who is worse off—in this case, the victims. While moral ignorance has provided a plausible excuse by many people’s estimation, it should be found secondary compared to the victims’ well-being. The victims’ moral standing cannot be based on the perpetrators’ moral failures.

A similar problem faced by the victim’s perspective is that it tries to alleviate unfairness with more unfairness. When agents commit wrongful actions, they violate a norm against other agents. Perpetrators treat their victims unjustly, taking advantage of an imbalanced social structure that allows them to continue to do so. Mr. Potter, for example, takes advantage of the socially permissible ruthlessness of the business world. This situation leaves the choice of being a good employer or not to Mr. Potter’s own discretion and thus enables him to abuse his position of power.

The victim’s perspective would demand that Mr. Potter make amends and compensate his victims even if he does not fully understand the wrongfulness of his actions, given their social permissibility. Of course, this is, in some respect, unfair to Mr. Potter as well. He has no reason or motivation to change his behavior when this behavior is all that he was taught, and, in the end, provides him the most profit in his own judgment. The unfairness of Mr. Potter’s behavior toward his employees may be alleviated, but the question remains whether this justifies the unfairness of blaming Mr. Potter when he couldn’t have known better.

I propose that, given the structure of the problem, this unfairness is indeed justified. The victims are treated unfairly at least once when Mr. Potter’s behavior harms them. If we then demand that the victims do not blame Mr. Potter or ask for compensation from him, we double the unfairness that the victims have to live with. But if the victims are granted the standing to demand that Mr. Potter fix his behavior, then the unfairness toward them is committed only once, and the victims and Mr. Potter are harmed one time each.

This solution is not ideal, and many problems can arise. For example, even if Mr. Potter compensates his victims, it may be too little, too late. The harm that Mr. Potter has inflicted could be so damaging that he cannot compensate sufficiently. If, for instance, he has mentally and physically mistreated his employees for many years, the problem could not be fixed with just an apology and financial compensation. Acknowledging what he did was wrong and accepting his active role in the harmful behavior is a good starting point. However, there is still a need for moral progress and reform.

The idea that Mr. Potter might not fully comprehend the wrongfulness of his action brings us to the next issue, which is that it might be incredibly challenging, if not impossible, for perpetrators to change. However, the demand for reform may still be important. Even when the perpetrators claim they cannot change their behavior, they can at least acknowledge that this behavior was harmful to the victim. This way, victims are acknowledged as agents, and the harm inflicted on them is acknowledged as significant.

Even in the absence of tangible restitution, blame responses are essential for the victims because they emphasize the perpetrators’ role in inflicting harm upon them. If the perpetrators are not linked to the wrongful act, then any type of compensation toward the victims can be perceived as patronizing and not genuine. The victims should have the standing that blame can give and the opportunity to demand reform.

Another possible objection is that we should focus only on the victim. However, that would take us from one extreme to another. Adding the victim’s perspective to the debate and creating a meaningful dialogue between the two perspectives is a solution that does not demand an extreme position. After all, the suggestion of the victim’s perspective already exists in the responsibility literature; it just has not been explored thoroughly.

Moreover, there is a need for a philosophical conceptualization of the victim that becomes prominent given the variation between legal systems in different countries, as well as problems such as “victim blaming” or the “perfect victim” narrative, all of which show how important this work is and how challenging it would be to define the concept of the victim. The need to conceptualize the victim appears all the more urgent when so much work has already been done to define the requirements of a person who can be responsible for an action.

Although objections can be raised to argue against the victim’s perspective, it is shown by the overall concern with the perpetrator, at least within the responsibility literature, that an alternative narrative is being overshadowed. There are methodological and political reasons to focus on the victims instead of the perpetrators, and objections can only aid in making this focus more meaningful and precise.

Recent discussions have centered on how accepting the identity of the victim can be harmful to people.[25] My intuition is that these discussions remove the focus from what is or should be important in academic research, i.e., supporting vulnerable groups. Especially fields like philosophy, which often center on human relationships and behaviors, can accommodate the perspectives of victims.

Suggesting that specific issues should be targeted implies that they are not being targeted because of a privileged perspective that does not find it necessary to deal with them. So the lack of research on victims and victimhood or, more importantly, the unwillingness to investigate such topics, implies that the people who make research choices are not open to viewing the world from different standpoints. This might be because the stereotypical identity of the researcher does not conform with that of the victim.

Thus, academic research has remained a step behind social issues and needs, and although I believe that steps have been taken to rectify this situation, more needs to be done. There are subdisciplines that actually center on the victim’s perspective, such as feminist theory and critical race theory, and work on responsibility could take these into account more fruitfully.[26]

While philosophers have responded in different ways to the challenge of excusing ignorance due to formative circumstances, the debate has rarely focused on what I have called the victim’s perspective. With this article, I have tried to fill this lacuna, offering an alternative perspective in light of the fact that the argument from upbringing is unacceptable for victims. I have described how the victim’s perspective not only provides a new methodological standpoint in the debate but also offers a response to the argument from upbringing.

A central factor in the victim’s perspective is the importance of blame and how blaming the perpetrators can help victims be compensated for the harm they have suffered. Blame emphasizes the role of the perpetrators and preserves the link between them and the wrongful act. With an explicit connection between the two, victims can pose demands for compensation, which would be unreasonable if the perpetrators were blameless. We want to attend to the victims before we attend to the perpetrators. Further, we want to honor the victims’ hardships while trying to enable a moral community.

Of course, there are possible objections to the victim’s perspective. It can be suggested that perpetrators should be blamed according to their capacities. However, blaming the perpetrator even solely in order to compensate the victim is a convincing reason to blame, even if this perspective has been neglected in the literature. More importantly, the perpetrator’s demand for justice is not sufficiently justified if it comes at the victim’s expense.

A similar challenge would be that the unfairness endured by the victims would have to be mitigated with more unfairness toward the perpetrators. However, as I have stated, if the perpetrators do not face demands for compensation, which are in turn enabled by the victims’ right to blame them, then the victims face a double unfairness. Not only do they have to accept the harm inflicted on them, but they also cannot maintain the link between wrongdoer and wrongful act, which bars them from demanding compensation.

With the victim’s perspective framework, I propose that instead of focusing on the perpetrators, the responsibility debate should be shifted, at least partially, to the victims, ensuring that their social and agential ranking is restored in a meaningful way. This will help fill the gap in the debate and underline a problem that is as philosophical as it is political.

marianna.leventi@fil.lu.se

dePICTions volume 4 (2024): Victimhood


[1] For example, see Jay R. Wallace, Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996; Neil Levy, “Culpable Ignorance and Moral Responsibility: A Reply to FitzPatrick,” Ethics 119 (2009): 729–741; Gary Watson, “Responsibility and the limits of evil: Variations on a Strawsonian Theme,” in Watson, Agency and Answerability, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, 219-259; David Shoemaker, “Cruel Jokes and Normative Competence,” Social Philosophy & Policy 35.1 (2018): 173–195; Susan Wolf, “Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility,” in Ferdinand David Schoeman, ed., Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987, 46-62; John Martin and Mark Ravizza, Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998; Miranda Fricker, “The Relativism of Blame and Williams’s Relativism of Distance,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, 84 (2010), 151–177.

[2] For example, see Peter F. Strawson, “Freedom and resentment,” in Gary Watson, ed., Free Will, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003 (1962), 72–93, here 79.    

[3] I thank an anonymous reviewer for pushing me to clarify this point.

[4] For example, see Gideon Rosen, “Skepticism about moral responsibility,” Philosophical Perspectives 18.1 (2004): 295–313, and Michael J. Zimmerman, Moral Responsibility and Ignorance,” Ethics 107.3 (1997): 410–426.

[5] William J. FitzPatrick, “Moral Responsibility and Normative Ignorance: Answering a New Skeptical Challenge,” Ethics 118 (2008): 589–613.

[6] Margaret Urban Walker, Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations after Wrongdoing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

[7] Thereby precluding the possibility of “victim blaming.” For more on this issue, see Marianna Leventi, “Victim Blame, Justified Risks, and Imperfect Victims,” Feminist Philosophy Quarterly, forthcoming.    

[8] See, for example, Mariëtte Berndsen, Matthew J. Hornsey, and Michael J. A. Wohl, “The Impact of a Victim-focused Apology on Forgiveness in an Intergroup Context,” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations 18.5 (2015): 726-773, Charlotte V. O. Witvliet, Lindsey Root Luna, Everett L. Worthington Jr. & Jo-Ann Tsang, “Apology and Restitution: The Psychophysiology of Forgiveness After Accountable Relational Repair Responses,” Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020) [8 April 2024].

[9] Matthew Talbert, “Situationism, Normative Competence, and Responsibility for Wartime Behavior,” The Journal of Value Inquiry 43.3 (2009): 415-432, “Moral Competence, Moral Blame, and Protest,” The Journal of Ethics 16.1 (2012): 89–109, “9 Unwitting Wrongdoers and the Role of Moral Disagreement in Blame,” in David Shoemaker, ed., Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 225–245, Moral Responsibility: An Introduction, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015.

[10] Matthew Talbert and Jessica Wolfendale, War Crimes: Causes, Excuses, and Blame, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, Alexander Edlich, “What About the Victim? Neglected Dimensions of the Standing to Blame,” Journal of Ethics 26.2 (2022): 209–228.

[11] FitzPatrick, “Moral Responsibility and Normative Ignorance.”

[12] Levy, “Culpable Ignorance and Moral Responsibility.”

[13] Philip Robichaud, “On Culpable Ignorance and Akrasia,” Ethics 125 (2014): 137–151.

[14] Erin I. Kelly, “What Is an Excuse?” in D. Justin Coates and Neal A. Tognazzini, eds., Blame: Its Nature and Norms, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 224-262.

[15] Pamela Hieronymi, “Articulating an Uncompromising Forgiveness,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62.3 (2001): 529–555.

[16] R. Jay Wallace, “Dispassionate Opprobrium: On Blame and the Reactive Sentiments,” in R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman, eds., Reasons and Recognition: Essays on the Philosophy of T. M. Scanlon, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 348–372.

[17] Michelle Ciurria, An Intersectional Feminist Theory of Moral Responsibility, London: Routledge, 2020, 9.

[18] For more on different types of blame, see Marta Johansson Werkmäster, “Blame as a Sentiment,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 30.3 (2022): 239-253.

[19] Silent blame refers to the idea that victims could blame wrongdoers without ever expressing the negative attitude. I thank an anonymous reviewer for suggesting this.

[20] Michael Papendick and Gerd Bohner, “Passive victim – strong survivor? Perceived meaning of labels applied to women who were raped,” PLOS ONE 12.5 (2017): 1–21.

[21] FitzPatrick, “Moral Responsibility and Normative Ignorance.”

[22] Rosen, “Skepticism about moral responsibility.”

[23] Wlodek Rabinowicz and Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen, “The strike of the demon: On fitting pro‐attitudes and value,” Ethics 114.3 (2004): 391-423.

[24] John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

[25] As seen in victim vs. survivor talk and theories about cultures of victimhood. See, for example, Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, and Papendick and Bohner, “Passive victim – strong survivor?”

[26] I thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.

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