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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Commodification: Has It Tarnished the Beautiful Game?

• Historically, sports existed ‘to promote aretê or human excellence which could be applied to almost any endeavour in life’.
• Contemporarily, the market forces of Capitalism have taken over and money has become the primary objective – football is the greatest example of this transition from a character building activity to a mass-market business.
• What, though, does this process of Commodification involve? George Bataille and Guy Debord will be used to cast enlightenment on this within the context of the Surrealist and Situationist Parties.
• Furthermore, has the footballer become tarnished by this process of Commodification? In assessing the effects this has on the professional footballer’s character, I shall be drawing on Schiller’s Aesthetic Education and its arguments regarding modern society’s obsession with specialists.
• Alistaire MacIntyre’s views on how man’s virtues should be able to be summoned and used in all situations will also be made relevant

Schiller: ‘‘[contemporary society encourages the footballer to be] nothing more than the living impression of the craft to which he devotes himself’’

MacIntyre: ‘‘someone who genuinely possesses a virtue can be expected to manifest it in very different types of situation’’.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Ignoring the Other: an Enquiry into Levinasian Ethics and Child Abuse

For Levinas, the human being undergoes an ethical epiphany when it encounters the human Other. The subject, when faced by the Other, is commanded to respect it and care over it. A parent, when faced with the ethical presence of their newborn child, is called to rise to the responsibility and autonomy this human life demands…

16% of children experience serious maltreatment at the hands of their parents

The aim of this project is to explore ethical irresponsibility and the effects of abusive parenting. It shall argue that the experience of abuse distorts a child’s very structure of being. As such, the abuse victim’s understanding of themselves, their place in the world, and their relation to the Other is corrupted. This corruption can lead to difficulties in placing abuse within the construct of a coherent narrative identity. Similarly, it can effect a victim’s ability to appropriately relate to others as Other in later life.

It shall draw on texts from both Levinas’ philosophical discourse and cognitive research. To bring certain abstract concepts to life it shall introduce case studies of abuse victims.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Unmasking the Hero: Re-Evaluating Heroic Morality with Reference to the Graphic Novel Watchmen

The object concerning my project is the comic book character The Comedian. In my project I want to investigate how The Comedian can be considered to be evil by conventional morality and yet referred to as a hero. The main objective of my project will be to argue that although the Comedian acts beyond conventional morality, his label as a Hero is very much deserved. He is the epitome of what a Hero should be and so beyond normal considerations.

In my project two other characters from the comic book will also be discussed, Rorschach and Ozymandias, both of which illustrate two alternative moral systems. Rorschach takes on Kant’s Deontological value system that argues for universal morality known as the categorical imperative. It is obvious in the end that due to Rorschach’s moral inclinations he is not able to function as person let alone a hero. Ozymandias on the other hand illustrates Mill’s concept of Utilitarianism. Ozymandias justifies his actions in killing millions of people by arguing that it is for the greater good. Is the sacrifice too great? If it is ever discovered what he did would he still be considered a hero? Both these moral systems are considered to be socially accepted conventions. However I will argue that although they may be acceptable for general society, it is inadequate for a Hero to use either of these moral systems.

Unlike the other “Heroes” Rorschach and Ozymandias, the Comedian’s value system is over and above conventional social morality, he is the creator of his own values. The Comedian accepts that life is absurd and that society is not as civilised as we think it is and so he acts accordingly as the hero we need rather than the kind of hero we want. The Comedian utilises Hegel’s concept of the right of heroes to be the lawgivers in an uncivilised time. They are granted the right to do whatever is necessary to establish a civilised society.

The Philosophers and concepts
Machiavelli – The Prince
Nietzsche – The Overman
Hegel – World Historical individuals
Kant – categorical imperative
Mill – Utilitarianism
– The Eternal Return
– The Rights of Heroes

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Credit to Capitalism: a Philosophical Examination of the Most Enduring System of Our Time

The aims of this project are:

-To gain a greater depth of knowledge regarding the origins and definition of capitalism.
-To offer descriptions of the vast differences between Chinese and American capitalism.
-To give in depth analyses of the economies of both the United States and China.
-To open up capitalism as an economic concept to philosophical debate.
-To assess whether notions such as freedom and human potential are relevant in a discussion of capitalism.
-To make philosophical assertions about capitalism in advancing the worth of the human being and encouraging humanity’s ‘flourishing’.

Capitalism is the most enduring economic system of our time, there has to be a reason communism and Marxism have failed and why democratic led reform and capitalism have become the most successful political and economic systems. Capitalism is widely regarded as being able to give every single individual the opportunity to achieve wealth and the opportunity to involve themselves within the business of profit.

Max Weber’s account of the origins of capitalism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism explains that religious protestant doctrine emphasises the moral goods of hard work, investment and discipline. During modernity, these ideals paved the way for the beginnings of unrestrained and individualist capitalism that is now the norm in the US. Weber identifies that an individual endeavours to involve himself in moral economic activity because of a ‘calling’ which can be seen as an obligation to God. Moreover, economic achievements were seen as the true measure of one’s moral standing.

I shall then focus on John Rawls’ most famous work, Political Liberalism; I believe that it is only in a liberal political system that true capitalism as we know it can be achieved. Liberal politics allows free trade and the opening up of an economy. The philosophical tradition of liberalism is widely regarded as enabling capitalism and engineering the free market that exists within some nations today.

My project will be a hermeneutical explanation of what capitalism essentially is, followed by an empirical investigation into the different strains of capitalism found in the USA and China and assess whether China can really be called a capitalist nation at all.

Sources used- Max Weber –The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and John Rawls – Political Liberalism.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Manic Depression: an Illness Rooted in its Dark Past

An examination of the modern treatment and diagnosis of bipolar disorder in the light of Michel Foucault

Territory: Bipolar Disorder – This project looks at how the term bipolar has been constituted and how it came about, as well as identifying the stigma still attached to diagnosis.

Michel Foucault: – Foucault talks of madness and looks back over history to see how the mad were treated and viewed by society and doctors. The constitution of the term “madness‟ is historically negative so that today it is often viewed in conjunction with manic depression.

“What is called “mental illness‟ is simply alienated madness…”

Aims: To research the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder, historically linking it to Foucault’s thought.
Case study: America’s Medicated Kids – Louis Theroux, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Stephen Fry BBC Documentary.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

An Analysis of Nietzsche’s Notions of Culture, Self-Formation and Exploring Whether Such Notions, When Compared with Foucault’s Philosophy, Are Relevant in Contemporary Society

– Nietzsche’s notions of culture

– Nietzsche’s formation of the self

– Foucault’s aesthetics of existence

– Foucault’s advancement and caring for the “self”

– Ethical advancement and transition

This project will determine whether the ideas of both Nietzsche and Foucault can be translated in to today’s contemporary 21st Century world. The lightning pace of technological and cultural advancement present in today’s society can be viewed as an ethical minefield, and therefore I question whether the two philosopher’s concepts of culture and ethical transition can help 21st Century society in any way shape or form.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

How Has the Power of Mass Communication Changed over Recent Years and What Influence and Control Does It Have over Society?

A study of the ways in which society has changed as the advancement of mass communication has occurred.

Can we think for ourselves today or is autonomy impossible in this world of unlimited influence?

History of Modernity

• Modernity
• Crisis of modernity
• Post­modernity

Aim: To discus whether we have the ability to be autonomous in society today or are we are too broadly influenced by mass communication.

Territory: various forms of advertising particularly focusing on online advertising today

Philosophical concepts: Marxist ideas of the prevention of uprising, Guy Ernest Debord ‘The Society of the Spectacle’, Jean Baudrillard “The Ecstasy of Communication”

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

From Viral Advertising to Corporate Personhood: Does the Corporation Walk Among Us?

The object upon which my project will be based is the corporation.

The context in which I will explore the corporation is viewing corporations with the framing of an individual.

Although corporations are what the name implies, a group of individuals working together towards the production of profit; corporations share many attributes that an individual holds, including corporations being seen as ‘legal persons’ in legislation.

Therefore, to what extent is an individual human and a corporation the same as one another or different?

To explore this idea, I will use topics such as;
• Aristotelian virtue ethics – can corporations have traits and characteristics which deem them to be virtuous?
• Hegelian social ethics – how can corporations function ethically within a social whole and guarantee ‘recognition’ to stakeholders and employees?
• Social contact theories – taking Hobbesian social contact theory and applying it to the corporation
• Prevailing thoughts in the newly developing field of business ethics

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Relation of Advertising and Branding to the Rise of Capitalism in Britain

My third year project presentation is on the rise of capitalism in Britain by means of advertising and branding with reference to Theodor Adorno’s The Culture Industry and Dialectic of Enlightenment and Naomi Klein’s No Logo. I will evaluate the rise of capitalism in Britain, and what led to the individual’s willingness to conform to this particular type of industry. I will analyse the techniques of the colossal chain companies that engage individuals to consume, these being advertising and its origins and the increase of companies starting to produce „brands‟ instead of concentrating on the production of the product.

This leads my dissertation on to the work of Theodor Adorno, Adorno subscribed to many of Karl Marx’s about the economy and the exploitative relations of capitalism and advertising. Adorno argued that capitalism fed people with the products of a „culture industry‟ the opposite of „true art‟, to keep them passively satisfied and politically apathetic. The strength of his theoretical contribution owes a great deal to the originality with which he traced pathways between the central themes of German idealist philosophy, Marxist sociology and Freudian psychopathology.

I will discuss his ideas about alienation, the regression of listening, fetish consciousness and the domination of nature, in relation to our capitalist society today. The repercussions on society of Adorno’s notions are colossal; such as the ideas of brain-dead docile populations hence, I will explain these.

My case study focuses on the rise of Tesco’s as a business; I will show how it exploits individuals through capitalism at its purest. Many of Adorno’s theories on domination and the way Tesco’s sucks us into a cycle of fetishizing commodities that we will never need or use.

Naomi Klein’s No Logo is seen as the Das Kapital of the anti-corporate movement. The basic perspective is that multinational corporations have become so big that they have superseded governments and have become the ruling political bodies of our era. Unlike governments, multinational corporations are accountable only to their shareholders and there are no mechanisms in place to make them “put people before profits”. Klein takes a modern perspective that Adorno is not here to see. I shall then contrast ideas from both Klein and Adorno to gain a modern perspective of the problems of capitalism and how it affects our society and the individual.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Cooking an Art According to Kant’s Aesthetic?

My project is an investigation into gastronomy. My aim is to investigate whether cooking is regarded as an art or a craft or even maybe both. My territory is looking at two famous British chef’s Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver. My philosophical concept is going to be using Kant’s aesthetic judgement from his third critique.

According to Kant art cannot be part of an aesthetic judgement, however there is a sense of ambiguity when it comes to the ideas behind Blumenthal’s molecular gastronomy. What is the difference between the two chefs? Why can one make it more acceptable for gastronomy to become close to an aesthetic experience?

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Property Magazine: the Realities of the Market

Many would acknowledge, that in some form, the contemporary financial landscape is separated from what we would consider ‘reality’. The money which is exchanged within in the financial markets seems to have no grounding outside the markets in which it is exchanged. This edition looks at the problem and enquires to what extent this is a problem.

Capitalism. Can capitalism and the markets that work within be justified on moral grounds? A Property Week special report puts aside our intuitive moral assumptions and looks in greater depth at the concept of capitalism and the ethical dilemmas that arise out of this system.

Hyperreality. By commencing deregulation in the global financial institutions, have the governments of Thatcher and Reagan of the 1980s created a new economic domain of hyperreality? This edition looks at whether responsibility can be placed back into the financial markets.

Questioning the economic realities of the market with particular reference to the commercial property market

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Sex for Sale: an Investigation into the Ethics of Prostitution

Known as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution has always been present in society. However, the moral viewpoint regarding prostitution is not so consistent, the act being legal and regularised within some countries and punishable by death in others.

The aim of my project is to therefore attempt to find an answer to the ambiguity which surrounds the morality of prostitution. Looking only at a case of prostitution between two consensual agents – as any other example would clearly involve an inherently wrong violation of freedom – I will examine prostitution in the light of three prominent moral philosophical theories:

• Utilitarianism
• Kantian Ethics
• Hegelian Ethics

The choice of these particular theories is not only because they are notable moral arguments but also because they are very diverse theories.

This diversity consequently allows a balanced and thorough investigation into the morality of prostitution.
With regards to Utilitarianism, I will study Bentham’s ‘hedonistic calculus’ and Mill’s ‘greatest happiness’ and ‘harm principle’.

The application of Kant’s ethics means a study of prostitution under the categorical imperative.

Finally, prostitution in relation to Hegelian ethics involves an exploration into freedom and the societal values which can uphold this freedom.

Ultimately, I hope to reach a credible conclusion as to the morality of prostitution answering pertinent questions such as, does sex have an inherent special quality which should disallow it to be used as a commodity? And can the legalisation of prostitution ever be considered worthwhile for society?

‘Prostitution testifies to the amoral power struggle of sex…. Prostitutes, pornographers, and their patrons are marauders in the forest of archaic night.’ – Camille Paglia.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Should the Advertising of Alcoholic Products Be Restricted?

In my project I am going to be focusing on advertising of Alcohol in our current society and its positive and negative effects.

By looking at how the negative health effect of smoking changed the advertising of cigarettes I will relate this to what we already know about alcohol and its damaging attributes both physically and mentally, and assess if the advertising of alcohol needs to change.

It is arguable that because alcohol is a legal product then it should be legal to advertise.

However, the same can be said for cigarettes but because of the clear connection between cancer and cigarettes.

Clearly a total ban on alcohol advertising would be detrimental to individual brands of alcohol, but possibly not on the general sale of alcohol.

The main arguments against alcohol advertising suggest they increase sales in existing drinkers and provoke new young drinkers.

Cheap accessible alcohol promotes anti-social behaviour and heavy drinking which can lead to alcoholism and depression in later life, as well as various health issues.

Essentially, advertising of alcohol legitimates excessive use of a potentially damaging product.

To establish if it is right to ban alcohol or an infringement of our liberty I will be looking at Bentham and Mill’s concept of welfare. A vitally important question for Mill is what are: “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by the society over the individual’ (L.1.1)

I aim to establish whether the health effects of alcohol are reason enough to ban the advertising of it.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Free Will in Relation to Advertising in the Modern Society.

In my project I hope to achieve an understanding of the free will problem and through this explore how various elements of society may subconsciously coerce us into action that we do not want to take.

I will look into elements of;
• Causal determinism
• Libertarianism
• Compatibilism
• Self determination
• Coercion
• Desires

I will also be looking at Hobbes and Kant to compare and contrast their views on freedom and then look at the modern society and explore how the concept of freedom can change and also how it is relative to the self. I will then look at political coercion and various forms of advertising to show how we can be controlled and our freedom can be easily threatened, I will then ask if we even truly have freedom for it to be threatened or is this coercion essential to society and is it even important that we have a totally free will.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Why the Trends in Suicide Rates?

New Religious Movements?

Aims: philosophically interpret the graphical data. Understand firstly why, since the beginning of postmodernity, suicide rates have dropped so significantly, halving in number on average. Secondly why they were inclining prior to this?

Sources: Oliver James’s ‘Affluenza’, Durkheim’s ‘Suicide’, and antisecularization theses.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Anxiety: Disorder or Not?

Is anxiety a disorder to be eradicated, or a mood beneficial to human life? The aim of this essay is to establish whether or not there is a correlation between Heidegger’s concept of anxiety in relation to the Nothing, and Gadamer’s concept of anxiety as a legitimate, and often misunderstood, mode of knowledge.

Heidegger claimed that anxiety was the gateway to the Nothing and therefore could be used as a path to the answer to the question of being.

Gadamer claimed that mental illness, including anxiety, whilst seemingly treated to the best of a particular period’s abilities, is cast aside as being irrational. In fact, Gadamer claims that the way in which the mentally ill think is to be taken seriously and one must therefore enter into it.

The territory for this essay will be mental illness in our own modern society, as shown by the York Retreat below. I will attempt to show which mental illnesses to do with anxiety are prevalent in our society compared to societies in the past. I will also attempt to show if there are, in general, more cases of anxiety based mental illness in modern society than ever before, for example in the U.S.A. 13.3% of the adult population suffer from one or several forms of anxiety disorders (www.healthyplace.com).

For Heidegger, anxiety is a crucial “original” mood which cannot be entered willingly. He called such experiences “erfahrung”, meaning an experience which is undergone, not chosen. Such experiences are extremely powerful and although not directly life changing, do have an effect on one’s attitude to one’s life.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Glastonbury Festival and the Festivals of the Cherokee Tribe of Indian America

Aim: I intend to explore, in depth, both the Glastonbury festival and the festivals of the Cherokee Indian American tribe. I will compare and contrast their methods of celebration and their traditional customs.

Territory: I will be looking through the history of Glastonbury festival; how it has changed and developed through its forty-year span, including its transformation through commerce, charity and attendees. Conversely, I will focus on the Cherokee festivals through their very broad historical traditions; establishing the reasons behind their elaborate celebrations and the methods used to do so.

Philosophers and Concepts: I will mainly focus on Bataille’s philosophy, with particular reference to The Accursed Share and amongst his other writings; looking at his notions of unproductive expenditure, potlatch and the sacred. In addition, I will use a variety of resources, such as film, literature and internet sites to illustrate these notions and apply them to my aim.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Though Hope Is a Virtue, Can It Also Be Considered a Vice?

Out of the ashes of despair came hope. Though the human race suffers so much hatred, famine, illness, war; through it all there has been hope, there always will be.

Through the works of Nietzsche and Marcel I intend to study the positive and negative effects of hope on the human condition.

“Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music that can come from the remaining chord” – George Watts

As long as there is man, there will be hope. Though it may prolong one’s torment, it is a necessary evil to overcome the despair and anguish in the world around us today.

“For hope, which is just the opposite of resignation, something more is required. There can be no hope that does not constitute itself through a we and for a we. I would be tempted to say that all is hope is at the bottom choral…. the only genuine hope is hope in what does not depend on ourselves, hope springing from humility and not from pride” Gabriel Marcel

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Art, Definition and Essence: Doomed to Failure?

Many Philosophers over the centuries have debated whether the attempt to define art is plausible, indeed, possible. Numerous artist and philosopher, alike, have tried to define art in one corresponding universal term, bringing together all sufficient and necessary factors involved.

Many denied that art could be defined at all; in fact, it was considered anti essentialist. Meaning that art has an essence which is unable to be defined, the range is so broad. Others however maintained that art has no essence and turned their backs on the philosophical notion of essentialism all together. They maintained that the essence of art cannot be hidden from us, therefore denied the existence of a definition. Philosophers’ such as Weitz’s argued in his highly famous paper “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics” that it was no coincidence that there was a constant failure from both artists and aestheticians to define art in a universal term.

The aim of this dissertation is to work through a multitude of philosophical views on the definition of art, to find out the terms that art is placed under and what qualities a piece needs in order to qualify. For example, what qualities have to be similar in order for a renaissance portrait and a contemporary installation need in order to satisfy a universal definition? I will be looking at concepts such as essentialism, beauty, essence, expressionism and reality within art.

This dissertation will use a multitude of key philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Weitz, Bell and Kant; along with others that interlink during the project.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Do Social Interactions Demand the Abandonment of an Authentic Identity?

During encounters with the Other, one is prone to personality adaptations. Through this inquiry I will be looking at how one can be considered to have one identity as people adopt various personas, in addition to which, my non-philosophical territory will be exploring psychological insights into why these roles seem necessary.

In considering R.D. Laing, it seems that one creates a false self in order to survive in society, and it is distinct from an inner self. Lyotard and Taylor propose that discussions are essential in order to find a sense of self; something to distinguish the self from others, however if one creates a false self to engage with others, what is expressed may not always be a reflection of genuine personal beliefs, as such the authentic self is being ignored in the pursuit to ‘fit in’.

Sartre’s account offers an existentialist approach, and by simply being perceived by the Other one is being given an identity which will differ from person to person due to changes in roles. In which case we have further reason to believe that there is no one identity one can appeal to for an understanding of the self.

To solve this dilemma, I aim to explore Levinas’ notion of the Same as the economy of the Same may be adapted to include social adaptations necessary to relate to the world and others.