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PPE Talk: Kate Manne (Cornell)

November 3, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Kate Manne is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Cornell University. To see a complete bio, please visit her website.

“Acquitting Victims”

What is it to be a victim? And what is it to claim victimhood? In this lecture, I’ll argue that the notion of a victim is at heart a moral one, since the core case of victimhood involves being cast in a familiar kind of moral narrative, in which a vulnerable subject is put down or oppressed at the hands of a moral agent. The proposed way of conceptualizing victimhood explains several of the ways we think and talk about it, including the idea that victims should be innocent, and the hostility displayed towards people who cast themselves in the role of the victim – or ‘play the victim’ – which is often perceived as self-involved and self-aggrandizing. But is it always bad to accept one’s role as a victim, or even depict oneself as such, as much contemporary political discourse implicitly assumes? No, I will argue. Sometimes, it is appropriate to place oneself at the center of a story which one has had an active role in (re)shaping, which may compete with dominant and default versions of the narrative. One thereby has an opportunity – possibly a unique one – as a subordinate group member to reveal what it is natural to call one’s point of view on the matter, one’s side of the story, in relation to socially dominant parties. One may be able to expose the people who made one a victim as bullies and aggressors, and disrupt the usual flow of sympathy, which tends – like heat – to rise up the social hierarchy.

This event is free and open to all; pizza will be provided.


November 3, 2015
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Categories:
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Caldwell 105



Barry Maguire
(919) 962-3314
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