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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Capital Punishment, using ‘Ted Bundy’ and ‘The Life of David Gale’ to explore arguments for and against this form of punishment

Territory: Capital Punishment using ‘Ted Bundy’ and ‘The Life of David Gale’ to explore arguments for and against this form of punishment. Personalised Content: The discussion of these films is supported by information that has appeared in the media after the execution of Saddam Hussein, which has brought capital punishment back into the society’s consciousness. I have noticed a change in attitudes towards capital punishment and a trend in the reasons why it has gathered support. The threat of terrorist attacks and the increase in violent crime in society has brought about increased support for the death penalty. Prior to 2001 it was generally found that people opposed the death penalty on moral grounds, however it is now gained the greatest amount of support in recent history. The increase of support surrounding the death penalty has brought about further ethical implications, including discussion of methods used and debate over whether criminals should be allowed to die with dignity. Philosophical Content: I was interested in considering how certain ethical theories would link with capital punishment, in particular the theories put forward by Kant and Mill. I wished to link the films used to one of the theories in order to gauge whether they assisted in supporting or rejecting the particular standpoint. I linked ‘The Life of David Gale’ to Kant’s view outlined in his ‘Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals’ and found that the film just reinforced Kant’s view that it is acceptable to use capital punishment as a form of retribution. The argument in ‘David Gale’ is against capital punishment, but is so weakly constructed that it only assists in showing the strengths of Kant’s work. ‘Ted Bundy’ was linked to Utilitarianism as at the end of the film we see a celebration at the death of a serial killer, showing that at times capital punishment may produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number,

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Why do many people risk their lives for the thrill of surfing?

Territory: This project will focus on the development of surfing from its roots in Hawaiian culture to the position we find it in today. The key points in this progression will provide indications of the motivating factors behind the world’s top surfers. Object: • Kelly Slater – 8 Time world champion and arguably the greatest competitive surfer of all time • Laird Hamilton – Big wave pioneer who helped develop tow-in surfing Philosophy: The work of Hobbes and Hegel will form the foundation of the philosophical content. Hobbes’ social theory will help to place surfing in context with the ever changing situations that are a result of the cultures we experience. However, his concept of the state of nature in which we find humans stripped down to their most primitive form provides a strong argument to suggest extreme sports such as surfing are irrational and unnecessarily dangerous. The analysis of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit will provide an alternative approach to nature of risk taking.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Adoption and IVF: a Question of Rights?

Objectives: The main objectives for this project are to address the nature of children’s rights and whether anyone has rights over children. This shall be done by looking at different types of family structures, particularly those involving adoption and in-vitro fertilisation. The initial territory for this project is the Novel My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (picture to the left). In which the main character Anna was genetically created in order to keep her sister, whom has leukaemia, alive. It follows the ongoing struggle Anna has with her parents and her conscience as she files for medical emancipation from her sister, which will allow her to be free of ever having to donate to her sister again. Concepts: I shall be looking at the ethical implications of adoption and IVF for children, the notion of children as property which extends to the exchange of children as commodities and finally whether children can or do actually belong to anyone. Sources: • Jones, P. (1994) Rights THE MACMILLAN PRESS LTD. • Locke, J. (1976) The Second Treatise of Government. Fletcher & Son Ltd. • Knox (1952) Hegel’s Philosophy Of Right. Oxford University Press. • Winston, R. (2006) A Child Against All Odds. Transworld Publishers.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

SODOMISE ME: And other erotic transgressions

The philosophical basis of this project will be focused predominantly on the works of Bataille and Sade including Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom and Bataille’s Eroticism. This project aims to investigate eroticism and taboo in terms of the sexually grotesque in order to explore the place of erotic transgression in past and present society. I will do this by elaborating on key themes such as death, sexual perversion and cruelty. Chuck Palahniuk’s Guts represents a modern comparison to Sade’s text, using Bataille’s reflections from Eroticism I will conclude by assessing the significance and purpose of taboos within our society today.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

The Impact of Surrealism on Art Culture from Renaissance-Surrealism … Beauty, the Sublime and Autonomy

How has surrealism changed the way we can look at “art” and how has art changed since its “rebirth” in the 16th century Italian Renaissance? Kant’s notion of art posed against the Surrealist Philosophy using the object of Un Chien Andalou. Critically comparing this form of art against the notions of the Renaissance period assessing the emergence of the fascination with the Sublime in Surrealism from the typical Beauty in Renaissance. Philosophers and Artists: I shall be involving the philosophers Kant and Breton in discussing the merit of art and surrealism, as well as the Artists Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel and various Renaissance artists. I shall also involve insights from the work of Sigmund Freud.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

The Cyborg: Inhuman or Utopian?

The Cyborg Concept: The first section of my project sets out a definition of the cyborg as a cybernetic organism: the symbiotic combination of human and machine. From this definition I explore the idea that we now live in a cyborg society where the combination of human and machine has become the norm. The Cyborg Concept in Science Fiction: The second section of my project involves a discussion of the depiction of cyborgs in science fiction and the fears/hopes involved in the narratives. Since Haraway and Baudrillard have agreed that the line between science fiction and reality is illusory it is apparent that these issues are important today. Cyborg Acceptance/Cyborg Resistance: The third section of my project explores arguments for dissolving the boundaries between human and machine and for protecting these boundaries. The main sources of reference are Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ and Jean-Francois Lyotard’s ‘The Inhuman’. Heidegger and Technology: In the final section I discuss Heidegger’s claim in ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ that technology is so imbedded in our time that we cannot accept or resist it. We use technology but technology uses us too: it is our way of seeing the world yet it determines us. Vattimo says that the subject is weakened by technology and a weak subject is essential if we are to deny metaphysics.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Celebrity and the Spectacle

In August of 2006 I noticed a Headline on a copy of The Sun newspaper, the most popular newspaper in the United Kingdom. Accompanying a full page picture of the celebrated reality television star Jade Goody, the headline read: “THE FACE OF EVIL” This headline inspired me to focus my second year project on celebrity culture. Specifically I am interested in this modern phenomena present within our culture of individuals gaining celebrity seemingly for merely the fact that they are available to us to observe on a mass scale, at peak times, the ratings for the T.V. show on which Jade Goody found her fame, Big Brother reached to over seven million. Following the notorious incident of alleged racial abuse committed by Jade onto another contestant, our chancellor of the exchequer and soon to be Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology in concerns to the incident. This led me to ask several questions. Is Jade Goody seen as a public representative of British culture and standards? For what reason specifically do we ‘celebrate’ people who have gained fame in this manner? On what basis could we reasonably suggest that jade is evil personified? My suspicion is that this culture is an element of a grand illusion, a mere spectacle. Exploring this subject I have drawn on the writings of the situationist Guy Debord, and various publications concerning modern mythology.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploration of the Change in Christian Values and the Suppression of Desires

Aims: The main aim of this project is to explore the changes in the way in which religion has been viewed from the early 1800’s (from Nietzsche to Foucault) to the present day, and the way in which these ideas of Christianity have affected people’s perception of sexuality and the repercussions this has on society. Questions which need addressing: • Does religion affect your concept of understanding sexuality? • Are there boundaries as to what is acceptable when expressing sexuality? • Has the steady decline of Christianity among modern society affected our perceptions on sexual desires and sexuality in general? Key Sources: ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ – F. Nietzsche

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Democratic Principles in Lithuania

I have chosen the subject for several reasons. Apart from being able to investigate the journey of the development of democratic ideas in Europe, I had a chance to review the history of my own country and therefore present its difficult and passionate strife for the things that the Western part of Europe has taken for granted for so long. The picture below represents the unity and devotion that were the main accelerators in achieving what are now 3 proud independent democratic countries. It is a picture of the events of 1989 August, when people of all 3 Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) gathered together and joined hands across the 3 nations ( 650 km, more than 400 miles) in order to demonstrate their opposition to Soviet rule. Somewhere in that live fence stood myself, a five year old, expressing my right to be free. Philosophical Concept: I investigate the ways freedom can be manifested in a society. My main sources are Mill’s “On Liberty” and Rousseau’s “Social Contract” that represent the discussion between collectiveness and individuality that is crucial in defining the principles of any form of government, especially democratic.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Representing Nature

How is nature represented and how is this important to our attitudes towards it? My project aims to explore this question in the hope that one reading it will be able to assess each representation and its implications and in turn assess the way nature is represented today. It is clear that attitudes have a long way to go even in our current climate but why and how are they to change? This project will look at different representations to assess this. From the Romantics with Kant and Coleridge’s notion of nature as the sublime, to the postmodern viewpoint of Heidegger and his theory of technology, to the current attitude we find ourselves today with contemporary philosophers such as Michele Serres. Hopefully attitudes will change to ensure a secure future for nature and this project aims to assess what this attitude may be.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Climate Change or Attitude Change? An exploration of man’s fragile relation to nature, past, present and future

Climate change has become the issue that defines our age. It makes man’s detrimental relationship with his environment undeniable. The planet is warming up and is becoming uninhabitable for large parts of its population, and assuming that the science is correct, our activities are to blame. Territory: Climate change. Thinkers: Kant, Heidegger, Adorno. Aim: The aim of my project was to try and understand the development of man’s relation to nature, from mystical nature through to instrumental nature, in the hope of figuring out where we might have gone wrong, and what we can do about it.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Lenny Bruce a Philosopher or was he Obscene?

Lenny Bruce was a controversial American comedian in the 1960’s. He spoke about sex, religion and what it is to be obscene. It was not just the content of Lenny’s act that was thought to be obscene it was also the language he used. As a result of this he was charged with obscenity. This project looks at Lenny’s work and whether he was obscene or whether he was a moral philosopher. He claimed that had the court allowed him to see his work in context and allowed him to perform his act as evidence they would not find him obscene. His act was instead read out by a policeman or written down and used as evidence. However is there a distinction between speech and writing? Is context singular? Is what is obscene a fact or just an interpretation? Looking at the change in views on the binary opposition of speech and writing from Plato to Derrida this project will discuss whether had Lenny been allowed to perform his act in court would the decision of the court been different.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Africa and the West: the Globalisation of AIDS

My objective within this project from the outset has been to use the inspiration I got whilst doing volunteer work in Africa to look at how the West deals with AIDS and to what extent global charities have really made a difference in tackling it. I decided therefore that Kenya will be my territory and that I will need an in-depth understanding of the cultural, political and economic aspects of Kenya to form a basis for my project. I will also consider how Kenya has changed over the past century with a consideration of pre-colonial times and its subsequent struggle for independence. My object within my project will be the issue of AIDS itself. I will focus upon the raw statistics of AIDS and how it affects people in Kenya; I will also use my own experiences to give a wider understanding to the lives people with AIDS lead. I will then consider AIDS within the West and whether events in the media such as ‘Live 8’ and ‘Project (RED)’ have done little more than to globalise the issue, and the resulting consequences of this. • The main concept of my project will focus on cultural differences. • The philosophical side of my project will focus upon cultural relativism juxtaposed with cultural realism. I will use the works of Quine in his discussion on language to try and reconcile Western attitudes to AIDS with that of African attitudes. I will look at the work of Trigg in regards to realism to understand the different perceptions of AIDS from the global media to the Third World. I will also consider the work of Adorno to support the idea of the globalisation of AIDS through his ideas regarding media as a social phenomenon. His ideas on human suffering will also be useful in explaining the reality of AIDS in Kenya. • I will conclude my project with an understanding as to whether the West can really help stop AIDS through globalisation in the media, and whether this is more effective than direct government intervention.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Harry Potter and Good versus Evil … are humans free to choose?

I am beginning my personal project by studying the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling as my territory. More Specifically my territory is the first book by Rowling; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I will consider some of the facts within the novel such as its characters, the plotline and how both of these aspects of the novel fit into my main focus of the Harry Potter books i.e. the concept of good versus evil and indeed whether or not humans are free to choose to follow good or evil. As I mentioned my concept that I have chosen to study is are humans free to follow good or evil. As a philosophical framework for this concept I will compare the Christian theological position of St. Augustine and Pelagius with the work of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. As far as St. Augustine and Pelagius are concerned I will explore aspects such as the human will, human nature, freedom, free will, original sin, predestination, and the grace of God. With the above issues I will consider where St. Augustine and Pelagius agree on these points and where they differ. From this position I will compare the Christian attitude to Nietzsche’s attitude to whether humans are free to follow good or evil. I will consider aspects of his philosophy such as God is dead, free will as an illusion, there being no such thing as morality and good versus evil, the significance of power defining how successful a person is, the will to power, and Nietzsche’s argument against authority. Having gone through my philosophical framework I will compare Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to a parallel territory. For this I have chosen Homer’s The Odyssey. I will compare how stories were told in ancient Greece to how stories are told now. I will also compare why the Stories were told in both territories and for what purpose the stories were told. I will ask how has story telling changes and why? What implications that has on the respective societies? Finally I will consider how the change to stories, their content and the way they are told affect us today in the way we live our lives.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

David Mancuso and the Loft: War Machines?

David Mancuso, born October 1944, threw the first Loft party “Love Saves the Day” on Valentine’s Day 1970. It practically established what we now know as DJ / club culture through its reinvention of dance culture. My project aims to apply elements of the conceptual machinery developed by Deleuze and Guattari, in their collaborative project of ‘Capitalism and Schizophrenia’, to the history of The Loft and to dance / club culture in general. The possibilities within Capitalism (but also the limitations) outlined by Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy will be explored within this context. The main areas of investigation are the political status, in Deleuze and Guattari’s schemata, of The Loft (its visitors and David Mancuso included) and the actual individual experience of nightclubbing and dancing, as it might be understood in terms of the model of thought which they develop. The compatibility of David Mancuso’s intentions (“Love is the message”) with this theory will also be explored.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

New Age Education or Extreme Commodity?

Territory: The territory of my choice is Newcastle University. In the perspective in which I will be looking at University, it will be easy to consider all universities the same, as the aim of this project it to illustrate the dramatic change that has happened in the educational body of this country. Therefore, though I will be dwelling on the change that Newcastle has undergone, it will be representative of University as a whole in the United Kingdom. My aim: My aim in this project is to illustrate the change in university, both in its purpose and how it has become run. In this project is to show that University has changed from a place of excellence in learning, to a place that prepares one for the world of work. Therefore the emphasis on money making is not only in the minds of the applicant but also of the University. It will be important for me to draw upon the ideas of Marx and Lucaks for the idea of the ‘commodification of education’ which will be corroborated with several other sources from modern writers.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

An Analysis of the Ethical Implications of Genetic Engineering: the exploitation of animals

TERRITORY: The exploitation of animals in genetic engineering. CHANGES: * Advancements in technology and therefore genetic engineering. * Attitudes towards illness and genetic defects. Potential changes: * Media hysteria towards genetic engineering. * The world as we currently know it to be. CONCEPTS: Ethical theorists – Peter Singer and Donna Haraway. Plus briefly also including; eugenics and the teachings of; Green-Peace, Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism. Throughout my project I analyse the different forms of justifications offered for exploiting animals including; 1. Efficiency and practicalities. 2. Gaining knowledge and understanding. 3. Improving the environment. 4. Improving the human race. 5. Medical advancements. I offer examples for each of these justifications taken from Channel Four’s three-part documentary ‘Animal Farm’ broadcast on 19/3/07, 26/3/07 and 2/4/07. These justifications are juxtaposed with the work of Singer and Haraway, I also offer brief assessments of genetic engineering by; the philosophy of Eugenics, Green-Peace, Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism in order to assess whether or not the exploitation of animals in genetic engineering can be justified.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

The Change of Social Values over the last 100 years as Demonstrated in Advertising

Territory: Beer advertisements. Object: Carlsberg advertisements. Aim: The aim of my personal project is to show the changing attitudes and social values of the early 20th century society as opposed to our contemporary society. I have decided to show this using the marketing of beer. I also intend to point out how these represent the introduction of “Lad Culture” which became apparent in British society during the 1990’s along with ‘lads’ magazines such as maxim, FHM and Loaded as well as TV shows such as ‘men behaving badly’. It also shows a distinct change in attitude towards the consumption of alcohol in general; the development of the binge drinking culture that is so prevalent in today’s youthful society. I also believe these adverts show a distinct decline in the strong family values that we saw in the first half of the 20th century. I will thus talk about Hegel’s view of family values and compare them to that of a lesser known modern philosopher, David Cooper’s, works called ‘The death of Family’.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Faith Schools and the Modern British Society

Territory: Current debate about religion in modern British society regarding the rise in faith schools (a third of all new ‘City Academies’ will be in the control of Evangelical Christians or Christian organisations) and what this means in regards to curriculum, equal opportunities and tolerance towards those of other faiths or none. I wish to examine what form religion should take in a British child’s education. Thinkers: Richard Dawkins in chapter 8 ‘What’s wrong with religion? Why be so hostile?’ and chapter 9 ‘Childhood, abuse and the escape from religion’ from his highly controversial book ‘The God Delusion’. Andrew Wright in ‘Religious Education in the Secondary School’. Also secular, religious and government reports and media. Central Themes: – Are Faith Schools ‘fair’? Is it right to discriminate against a child by refusing them entry to a local school on what is essentially the basis of their parents religion? – Do Faith Schools provide an ethos of tolerance and understanding or do they exaggerate current cultural and religious divides? – Should religious theories be taught in schools alongside science, e.g. Intelligent Design and Evolution? – Should religion be ‘public’ or ‘private’? – Does it matter? A study showed that only 12% of school leavers from a Catholic school saw themselves as being Catholic and many rejected most of the doctrinal teachings. – Where is the state/religion divide in our society?

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Foucault and Performance in Sport

Outline: The project will analyse extensively the philosophical theory of French philosopher, Michel Foucault and will demonstrate how his theories can be applied to performance in sport. Aim: To argue that philosophy, and in particular that of Michel Foucault, plays a significant role in performance in sport. Method: The following aspects of both Michel Foucault’s philosophy and the role they play within sport will be used to support my argument: – Discipline: Disciplinary power is spawned from and spawns in turn a whole series of techniques and knowledges of the body. Discipline, both of the self and with respect to hierarchy, is crucial in sport – Knowledge: Elements formed in a regular manner by discursive practice and which are indispensable to the constitution of a science can be called ‘knowledge’; vital in the world of sport – Power: Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society. Like discipline, respect must be paid to this concept for success to be achieved – The Self: Interaction between the self and others, the technologies of individual domination and technologies of the self. Understanding the self and other individuals will heighten performance in sport – Discourse: Essentially referring to statements, the rules by which they are governed and their subsequent circulation and exclusion – ‘Mind Games’: How the words a coach uses can influence the performance of not only his own team, but also other coaches, players and sporting authorities; strongly linked to Foucault’s notion of Discourse – Performance: How all the above themes ultimately influence sporting performance. Sources include: Foucault, Sport and Exercise – Pirkko Markula & Richard Pringle, Michel Foucault – Sara Mills and Discipline and Punish – Michel Foucault. Information collated from the internet, magazines, newspapers and television will also be used to illustrate my project