The Rock Ethics Institute


Wrongfulness & Responsibility

Conceptually Situating the Harm of Rape: An Analysis of Objectification

Lindsay Kelland
South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (2): 168-183 (2011)

In this paper, I aim to show that part of the harm of male on female rape in patriarchal societies is explained by seeing rape as making good on the threat of sexual objectification. I argue that what takes place in an encounter of sexual objectification can be thought of as establishing an implicit threat which permeates the lived experience of being a woman under patriarchy because of the prevalence, meaning and place of sexual objectification in hegemonic patriarchal ideology. The act of rape makes good on this threat. Abstract retrieved from philpapers.

Kelland, Lindsay (2011) Conceptually situating the harm of rape: An analysis of objectification. South African Journal of Philosophy, 30 (2): 168-183.

A Heinous Act

Don Berkrich
Philosophical Papers, 38 (3): 381-399 (2009)

Intuitively, rape is seriously morally wrong in a way simple assault is not. Yet philosophical disputes about the features of rape that make it the heinous act it is invite a general account of the difference between (mere) wrong-making characteristics and heinous-making characteristics. In this paper I propose just such an account and use it to refute some accounts of the wrongness of rape and refine others. Given these analyses, I close by developing and defending an account of a particularly important heinous-making characteristic of rape. Abstract retrieved from philpapers.

Berkrich, Don (2009). Philosophical Papers, 38 (3): 381-399.

Rape as 'Torture'? Catharine MacKinnon and Questions of Feminist Strategy

Clare McGlynn
Feminist Legal Studies 16 (1): 71-85 (2008)

How can we eradicate violence against women? How, at least, can we reduce its prevalence? One possibility offered by Catharine MacKinnon is to harness international human rights norms, especially prohibitions on torture, and apply them to sexual violence with greater rigour and commitment than has hitherto been the case. This article focuses particularly on the argument that all rapes constitute torture in which states are actively complicit. It questions whether a feminist strategy to reconceptualise rape as torture should be pursued, suggesting that we retain the label ‘rape’ due to its gendered meaning and powerful associations. It is also claimed that we may lose sight of the commonality of rape in calling it torture, as well as obscuring the varied responses of women survivors. Finally, the article canvasses the idea that we recognise the different circumstances and contexts in which rape takes place, which may mean different criminal offences for different rapes; for example, preserving the label ‘torture’ for those rapes in which state officials are participantsAbstract retrieved from philpapers.

McGlynn, Clare (2008). Rape as 'torture'? Catharine MacKinnon and questions of feminist strategy. Feminist Legal Studies 16 (1): 71-85.

The Wrong of Rape

David Archard
Philosophical Quarterly, 57, No. 228: 374-393 (2007)

If rape is evaluated as a serious wrong, can it also be defined as non-consensual sex (NCS)? Many do not see all instances of NCS as seriously wrongful. I argue that rape is both properly defined as NCS and properly evaluated as a serious wrong. First, I distinguish the hurtfulness of rape from its wrongfulness; secondly, I classify its harms and characterize its essential wrongfulness; thirdly, I criticize a view of rape as merely ‘sex minus consent’; fourthly, I criticize mistaken attempts to discount the wrongfulness of rape for those who do not value sex; fifthly, I contrast two models for weighing interests, according to one of which rape is not seriously wrongful; finally, I sketch a defense of the view that our sexual integrity ought to be a central interest of ours. Abstract retrieved from philpapers.

Archard, David (2007). The wrong of rape. Philosophical Quarterly, 57, No. 228: 374-393.

Rape as a Form of Torture 

Jane Duran
International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 14 (2): 191-196 (2000)

Using material taken from contemporary feminist theory and also from work on human rights, it is argued that rape is a form of torture, and that it operates on powerful levels, both literally and metaphorically. Part of the argument is that rape has achieved the status it has as political force for exploitation because of strong beliefs about cultural reproduction and about the roles that women play in cultural reproduction. Abstract retrieved from philpapers.

Duran, Jane (2000). Rape as a form of torture. International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 14 (2): 191-196.


Men in Groups: Collective Responsibility for Rape

Larry May & Robert Strikwerda
Hypatia, 9 (2): 134-151 (1994)

We criticize the following views: only the rapist is responsible since only he committed the act; no one is responsible since rape is a biological response to stimuli; everyone is responsible since men and women contribute to the rape culture; and patriarchy is responsible but no person or group. We then argue that, in some societies, men are collectively responsible for rape since most benefit from rape and most are similar to the rapist. Abstract retrieved from philpapers.

May, Larry May & Strikwerda, Robert (1994). Men in groups: Collective responsibility for rape. Hypatia, 9 (2): 134-151.

Rape and Communicative Agency: Reflections in the Lake at L

Laura Hengehold
Hypatia, 8 (4): 56-71 (1993)

Freud's case study of "Dora" ignores indications that her symptoms might have resulted from a fear of rape. Drawing on feminist adaptations of Lacan, this paper suggests that fear of rape may serve as a horizon for women's ability to perceive themselves as efficacious speakers. Freud's failure to recognize this fear may reflect men's unwillingness to acknowledge their own role in rape as well as anxiety over the possibility of losing his own credibility. Abstract retrieved from philpapers.

Hengehold, Laura (1993). Rape and communicative agency: Reflections in the lake at L. Hypatia, 8 (4): 56-71.