The Cause Theory
Im not an advocate of rape or murder. I am an advocate of oranges however. Ok. Lets Begin.
I have a theory and i called this theory, The Cause Theory. What is The Cause Theory you might say? Well, if someone gets rape two hundred miles from your house and you were in your house watching television, you are part of the cause of that rape.
You are probably like whoaaaaaaaaaaaaa! And im like: Sir, im not joking with you.
My idea go back to the Merriam Webster dictionary. The dictionary states that "cause" is defined as "something that brings about an effect or a result."
So while you were watching television in your house, your action of "not knowing" and "watching television" allowed the rape to occur.
So basically, is not doing anything to stop the rape make you part of the cause of that rape? I believe everything is the cause of everything. Humans. Animals. Wind. Water. Fire. Everything is the cause of anything because our actions produce the effect of "allowing."
In other terms. If someone was planting a tree. Your action of not hurting the plant, is one of many billion reasons why the tree is living.
Now the question is that are you the main or responsible cause of that rape and/or tree's life? No. But are you part of the simple cause that allowed these two events to occur? I would say yes.
A friend of mind on this debate states that cause implies responsibility. I won't say his/her name because i haven't asked his/her permission. Anyway, i love that implication. There are times i think like that when i don't think too deep. And i believe that is what most people would think as well.
Side Score: 2
Side Score: 1
Semantically, the theory makes perfect sense. However, if you tell someone that they caused a rape, they assume that you mean it in the active sense of the world, rather than the passive, which is what you're doing. So I wouldn't go around telling people, or you may 'cause' yourself to get punched.
If you wish to equate inaction to action... than sure.
But if not being the cause of something that didn't happen is the same as being the cause as something that did happen, what would be the point in the word cause at all?
If no matter what, a cause exists for everything at all times, cause is simply existence. For that, there is no cause because it's something else. And that else is everything, sort of.
Then we're getting into deconstructuralist language, which I feel your Theory wouldn't hold up against because it is too specific, and deconstructuralism would suggest that your specificity in causation is harming itself as a theory.
There is a difference between a cause and a necessary condition. The art school that rejected Hitler didn't cause the holocaust, but it was a necessary condition for the holocaust to have happened (probably). It seems like in your theory you argue that all necessary conditions should be considered causes. The line between these two concepts is not always clear, however and this is a much debated subject of philosophy (specifically action theory).
Now in the law this idea is important because it deals with responsibility and duty. According to Emmanuel Kant we have perfect duties and imperfect duties. A perfect duty is one that you must perform all the time, and can be blamed for not performing that duty. For example, let us say (as most people would) that we have a perfect duty to not kill innocent people. This would imply that it is wrong for us to ever kill innocent people. Even if 99% of the time you are not killing innocent people, you can still be held responsible for the remaining 1% of the time you are not performing your duty. Imperfect duties on the other hand, according to Kant, are duties in which we are praised if we do them, but cannot be blamed if we do not. The easiest to think of here is if you think that people have some duty to give to charity then you would almost certainly consider this duty an imperfect one. We praise those people who do give to charity but we do not expect people to give to charity 100% of the time. In fact if someone gives just half of what they have to charity we would say that this person is exceptionally charitable.
Your view also deals with positive and negative responsibility. To a strict consequentialist (such as an act utilitarian) there is morally no difference between acting and not acting. Allowing someone to drown if you can save them is just as bad as causing someone to drown (this example over simplifies the issue, but I'm sure you understand the general point). However, if someone has a libertarian view of ethics, they would argue that the only duties that we have involve positive actions and we can never be blamed for something we didn't do. The exceptions to this previous statement of course are if we have already made a promise to do something for someone as in the case of a contract.
Hopefully this gives you some idea of the general philosophical issues you may be interested in researching.
Side: Don't Agree