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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

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 3

Consumer Culture. What’s in It for Me?

Territory.
The consumer culture/Modernity /Postmodernity/Commodity and the role of the individual experience. Essentially the current capitalist world in which we live.

Object.
The various theories brought forward by philosophers and sociologists such as Horkheimer and Adorno, Giddens, Lyotard, Marx, Featherstone, Slater, Baudrillard, Debord and Bernstein. The theories of Modernity and Postmodernity, their consequences when related to the concepts of Consumer Culture and a world of Commodity.

Change.
I am to chart the change from traditional world view through to modernity. The extent to which capitalism is affected by the culture industry and its movement towards postmodernity. Mass culture and the effect of industrialisation. The Influence of the Media industry, and the various problems we associate with advertising and marketing culture in contemporary society.

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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 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

Absurdity and the Apocalypse. Meaningful Existence in a Dying World

Mankind has long held a kind of morbid fascination in the prospect of its own demise, and with that of the world as a whole. The apocalypse – the cataclysmic end of all life on Earth – has frequently been a subject of film, art and literature. In my project, I intend to investigate one such literary instantiation of a world subject to just such a cataclysm – the bleak and ruined existence described in Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ – with regard to the philosophy of the absurd, as found specifically in the works of Søren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus.

When faced with the absurdity and meaninglessness of our existence – by the tension between our intuitive feeling that our lives have meaning, and our inevitable failure to find it in the world – we are plunged into nihilism.

The absurd man has recourse to three possibilities upon his experience of nihilistic feeling; faith, defiance, and suicide.

Through an investigation into the absurdist thought of Kierkegaard and Camus, and with reference to the world imagined in The Road, I intend to show existence in the post-apocalyptic world to be the ultimate embodiment of the absurdity of human life; that in this Godless world, where death is an experience one cannot stop living, and where nihilism is substantiated, inescapably, by existence itself, we find the true essence of our being, and the true nature of our attempt to give a point to our lives.

I intend to argue two things; one, that our world and the post-apocalyptic one are, in terms of human meaning, identical. And secondly, that despite the absurd nature at the core of human existence, our lives can still be worth living.

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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 2

A League of Their Own: Can Professional Athletes Be Justified in Earning So Much Money?

MY AIM: To discuss the debate of whether or not athletes can be justified over earning so much money. This has been one of the biggest talking points within professional sport in the 21st century. My debate is primarily centred around the notions of ‘ethics’ and whether or not it is right or wrong for an athlete to earn the amount that they do. I therefore intend to look at this discussion from an ethical and economical point of view.

TERRITORY: I have decided to primarily focus on the NFL franchise in America, and the Football Premier League in England. These are two renowned leagues that have been well known to pay their athletes incredible salaries.

SOURCES: I intend to use four topics of discussion in attempt to dispute and support the justification of athletes’ salaries:
Thomas Hobbes – the State of Nature and Social Contract theory
Karl Marx – The fear of a capitalist crisis and the concept of Socialism
Milton Friedman – Business Ethics: what is the purpose of a business?
Friedrich Nietzsche – The will to power

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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’’.

Categories
2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Is a Capitalist Society the Best Form for Individual Choice?

What kind of dining set defines me as a person? – Fight Club, 1999. This quote from the American film Fight club, and various advertisements by IKEA makes one beg the question, do these systems of consumerism really provide the individual with freedom, or do they somehow take it away?

Hegel argues that civil society is the best form for which we can express our individuality and satisfy our particular needs and desires, he argues that the more needs and desires one has the freer they become because they can’t be so easily defined.

Sartre thinks that consumerism in modern society is detrimental to individual freedom, that although one may believe in free choice, corporations such as IKEA cause a person to lose their individual identity instead taking on an identity believed by society to be more suitable – one is no longer simply furnishing a room, but defining oneself as a person.

Categories
2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Assess the Validation Theories for the Existence of Ghosts

DEFINITION: ‘The spirit of a dead person, especially one believed to appear in bodily likeness to living persons or to haunt former habitats’

My primary objective in this project is to investigate whether or not there is valid ground for the existence of ghosts. I attempt to achieve this through the study of previous case studies and claims to paranormal activity. Obviously this study can be taken further through the examination of the reality and how this influences our judgment of ghosts.

As can be seen in the photo on the left people have attempted to obtain hard evidence through the use of modern technology. Whether or not this has ever been achieved still remains to be seen.

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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

The Advantage of Intelligence: How Wealth Affects Wealth

We are promised at school that a degree will grant us the highest paid jobs. The guardian recently conducted a survey in which they asked 81 students whether they would be willing to pay more in tuition fees at university if it meant that they would be guaranteed the highest paid jobs.

The majority of them agreed to this idea.

I do not attempt to criticise the state of our educational system itself in terms of what it produces. Instead, I simply suggest that something is wrong, in a system where wealth seems to determine your place within the educational ladder long before you get to secondary school.

There seems to be a cycle: Wealth governs Education which governs Wealth.

Higher education is a luxury that most cannot afford, during which career progress comes to a standstill. Is the maxim ‘speculate to accumulate’ only available to the wealthier spectre of society? The lack of income during this period is intolerable, let alone the massive debt that is incurred, yet we remain steadfast and resolute in the opinion that it will all be worth it in the end, safe in the knowledge that, if it all comes to nothing, there will be financial aid to compensate for our arrears in the form of our wealthy benefactors. This is a reality that some are unfamiliar with, and is potentially why they do not opt for a university education. They would much rather be out in the world, working, earning money.

This leads me on to talk about Marx and his ideas of the Commodification of Education. It has become something that can be bought and sold. I also use his writings on exploitation and social conflict and the tension between the bourgeoisies and the proletariat, offering an idea that ‘intelligence’ is an illusory idea that can hold people at bay.

I also look to the works of Hans-Georg Gadamer, who investigates the nature of education using the framework of medicine and healing, highlighting the difference between objective and subjective knowledge, as well as the importance of ‘practice’, within the context of Hermeneutics.

Adorno’s thought features also, using his idea of the ‘Culture Industry’ to evaluate the differing mindsets towards education; exploring the possibility that a reluctance to pursue education after the state minimum might be an issue of culture, in terms of the Marxist nature of his thought.

In terms of offering a conclusion, I feel the most important thing is that I justify and fulfil my aims in this potentially controversial territory. I choose not to offer an alternative; that is for the labour of politics. Instead I offer a critique of education’s role in society. I don’t criticise schools in terms of what they produce. Again, that would be delving into the jurisdiction of politics. Instead I argue that our relationship to academia has changed. What once was a pursuit aimed at self-improvement and development – academia for academia’s sake – has been corrupted and is now a simple vehicle for financial gain.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

From the Ship of Fools to Anti-Psychotic Medicine

I believe that society, and therefore madness, are based on the main system of thought of every era and that through this we can study why changes in the treatment of madness occur.

Heavily influential in this work are Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche.

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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 3

The Philippine Condition: a Levinasian Account of Conflict

This stage three project will investigate the condition of Filipino society and the philosophical implications of its turbulent modern history. With a political past which has seen totalizing regimes with American and Spanish colonisation, dictatorship and a corrupt state of democracy influenced by Western materialism, this project will undertake an alternative philosophical approach in Emmanuel Levinas’ concept of the same and the Other to give a different assessment of power conception in Filipino history.

While the project takes into account events which have happened over the course of a century, particular attention is paid to the dictatorship in the 1970s under Ferdinand Marcos. In conjunction with this, the books Dekada 70 by Laulhati Bautista, and The Social Cancer by Filipino national hero Jose Rizal will be introduced to highlight the situation of the territory.

The philosophical aspect takes into consideration the work of Emmanuel Levinas. While beginning the project from an interpretive Heideggerian and Hermeneutic angle, a natural progression will be made to depart from a theory based mainly upon identity. By illustrating the historical narrative with the concepts of the same and the Other, this project shows how encounters on a global scale has allowed the Philippine condition to be an example of a state which is resistant toward totalisation.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

When Is Excess Too Great?

When is excess too great?

Due to anthropocentric approach to nature, a false conception of “progress” has been implemented which continues to push the boundaries of sustainability. With an unessential form of expenditure taking hold, a Society of the Spectacle is formed, in which essentials are abused to produce the unessential. If there is to be a change against unessential excess, is a reduction in population necessary?

Mill argues that a child should only be conceived if sufficient means can be provided.

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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 3

“I Just Want to Climb Rocks. Is That too much to Ask?”

Can my life be defined by a sport?

“Climbing is a rich enough experience that it can be a valid focus for your life…. you can say I’m a rock climber and that, if anybody understands it, has as much value as anything else you can spend a day doing.”-Todd Skinner.

Project Object and Aims
The object I have chosen for my project is the way in which I centre my life around rock climbing.
In contemporary society, life tends to be primarily focused on one’s job. Activities such as climbing are defined as pastimes. My project aims to ascertain whether I can, in contemporary society, define myself by my sport. This is relevant to a wide audience, since, in my conclusions, climbing can be replaced with whatever one wishes to orient oneself towards.

Philosophy
The key thinkers I will investigate in my work are:

Manuel Castells who writes explicitly on the idea of “resistance” and “project” identities as a means of constructing real identity

Michel Foucault who formulates a theory of power which affects choosing an identity in contemporary society.

Gianni Vattimo advances the position of weak nihilism as a means of viewing a society which has a plurality of worldviews.

Categories
2010 Abstracts Stage 2

In an Age Reliant upon Technology and Machines, Is Artificial Intelligence Currently Possible?

The Aim:
The aim of this project is to discuss the likelihood that machines are, by the standards of the Turing test already intelligent, or indeed are ever likely to be able to be described as being intelligent. Is it a problem with the Turing test if they cannot be described as intelligent? Or just something that machines lack?

Territory:
The territory is the realm of artificial intelligence and computers.