[SydPhil] MQ Philosophy Seminar: Glenn Carruthers

Rachael Brown rachael.brown at mq.edu.au
Sun Sep 27 20:03:55 AEST 2015

Please note the following upcoming event as part of the Macquarie
University Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Series.

"Sexism in Judgements of Responsibility in Cases of Filicide"
Glenn Carruthers (MQ)

1-2pm, Tuesday, 29th September
Building W3A, Rm 501 (Blackshield Room)

In this paper I review evidence that sexist stereotypes of motherhood and
fatherhood lead to skewed judgements of responsibility in cases of
filicide. In particular I identify the stereotypes that motherhood is
natural and necessarily more rewarding than any other pursuit, whereas
fatherhood is learned and of secondary importance to both father and child
as problematic. Taken seriously these stereotypes imply that no mother can
reasonably choose to deny her role as mother and that therefore there must
be something wrong with any mother who does violate their role (Dalley
1997/2000 p. 20). At worst this leads to an assumption that filicidal
mothers are ‘insane’ and at best a tendency to pathologise their actions,
meaning that explanations of their acts in terms of psychopathology are
relatively easily accepted. This means that the female killer’s status as
agent is also denied too easily. Similarly on these stereotypes it is
possible for a father to choose to deny his role as father. A filicidal
father does not appear, therefore, to be necessarily ‘insane’, but rather a
rational chooser of action who decided to do evil. As a result filicidal
fathers are less likely to be treated as ‘insane’ or even to have existing
psychopathologies recognised. When psychopathologies are recognised their
relationship to the crime is treated as more questionable than it is for
mothers and there is a tendency not to treat illness as a strong mitigating
factor. The result being that male killers are at times treated as agents
when in fact their agency has been severely impaired by some pathology.

Feel free to bring your lunch.

Contact: Rachael Brown (rachael.brown at mq.edu.au), Adam Hochman (
adam.hochman at mq.edu.au), Mike Olson (michael.olson at mq.edu.au)

A google calendar with details of other events in this series is available
for viewing and subscription by following this link:


6 Oct Nick Smith (MQ)

13 Oct Jennifer Radden (UMass) (Joint CAVE seminar)

20 Oct  Caroline West (Sydney)

27 Oct Daniel Hutto (Wollongong)
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