Scott on Victimology
By Bryan Caplan
Or let’s take another case; you decide to violate the law by jaywalking,
crossing the street in the middle of the block. You are struck and
killed by a car. (This happened to a Bentley student a couple years
ago.) Are you going to claim this person was a “victim” when she was
clearly violating the law? Um, actually yes, I sort of do view her as a
victim. Now you might say that my example is quite different from
infidelity. Well, pardon my French attitude, but aren’t chainsaws also
kind of different?
I brought up chainsaws as an existence theorem. If you admit that a guy who cuts off his own hand while trying to chainsaw your neck is no “victim,” it’s possible that other sufferers aren’t victims either. The point of the hypothetical isn’t that victims don’t exist, but the non-victims DO exist.
None of this means that people who suffer horribly as a result of committing minor offenses aren’t victims. I don’t think that. I jaywalk, and I don’t deserve to die. When people seriously suffer as a result of committing major offenses, however, I call that just deserts.
I know that utilitarianism says I’m wrong here. Utilitarianism’s denial of desert is another reason I’m not a utilitarian.