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At what point does "personal responsibility" end and the "just world fallacy" begin?

Asked by Zuma (5908points) May 13th, 2009

I just read an article that makes the case that the reason we are bailing out AIG instead of all the people in foreclosure who were duped into sub-prime mortgages by predatory lenders because the borrowers were somehow at fault.

There seems to be a kind of epidemic of blaming the victim; that whatever happens to the underdog, he’s got it coming—even though those who victimized him were far more greedy and predatory. (It’s a bit like saying the woman deserved to be raped because she was dressed “provocatively.”)

The following is from a post under another article in a similar vein:

“Quite often the ‘personal responsibility’ argument is used to justify this fallacious way of thinking. It goes to follow with the discourse of ‘Life is what you make of it’ ‘People need to stop blaming the system for their problems’ etc. etc. It never ceases to amaze me that the people that use this discourse would never be found saying things like ‘we are our brother’s keeper’ walk a mile in another person’s shoes’ or the sometimes popular: “There for the grace of God go I.”

“I was at a toastmasters meeting the other day when the ‘Toastmaster’ the emcee of the evening gave opening remarks about the theme of ‘Responsibility’ She described responsibility as being confused with blame…She stated and I quote “People either take responsibility for their consequences or they blame others or they blame the system”...she continued “When we realize that we cause our conditions and situations then we know we are taking personal responsibility” Moreover she went on to claim that there is a rise in people who constantly want others to take care of them and that it is now considered a mental disorder with people blaming others and wanting others to take care of them”.”

“I sat with my mouth agape. Does this woman (who by the way is a best selling author of low-carb cookbooks) honestly believe that everyone’s life lives in a vacuum? I know people who have been ostracized and been treated like dirt their whole life. I know people who have suffered many hardships that they did not bring on themselves. I know people who have been wrongfully fired from jobs and ended up homeless. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we all contribute to our outcomes and we all should be self-reflexive to see how we can improve ourselves. But when thirteen people in the room loudly applauded to this woman’s rant against all underdogs of society I wanted to bang my head against the wall.

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