My PhD considers moral responsibility within the context of extreme political conflict. More specifically it addresses the phenomenon of female perpetrators of violence, notably suicide bombers and war criminals, and examines their culpability through understandings of gender theory, agency, and autonomy.
It dispels misconceptions of gender roles, challenging common stereotypes relating to ‘peaceful woman’, and argues that mainstream accounts of agency and autonomy, premised on justice-based moral theories, are overly-reductive, abstract, and individual, which collectively serve to deny women proper agency and responsibility.
In my thesis, I aim to redress some of these issues by drawing on the Ethics of Care, a virtue and feminist based moral theory, to propose a more nuanced, relational model of agent, constrained choice, and autonomy. By offering a different construction of these concepts, I hope to suggest a more appropriate way of allotting responsibility to politically violent women, even in extreme situations.
It was both through my Masters dissertation in Global Ethics, which explored ideas of truth in relation to suicide bombers, and an option in my legal studies, which examined the evasion of responsibility during the numerous atrocities of the twentieth century, that sparked my interest in this field. I have also been most drawn to the virtue ethics moral theory, rather than deontological or utilitarian approaches, to understanding moral questions. In this thesis, I hope to develop these interests further.
I chose to study at the Centre because of my experience here as a Masters student. I found the multidisciplinary nature of the course, as well as the emphasis on integrating theoretical and practical issues, most suited to my own background and interests.