2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Reincarnation Real and Has Christianity Stopped us from Believing?

Territory: My aim is to look at modern day writers who focus their studies on the concept of past lives; mainly focusing on Dr Brian Weiss M. D., who claims to have aided over four thousand patients through their mental and physical pains through past life regression. I shall also be comparing the findings from Weiss’ work to beliefs which are rooted in Buddhism and trying to discover whether the work studied by Weiss allows people ‘a gateway to the spiritual peace’ which Buddhism claims we can develop through meditation. I have also looked at writers such as Shakti Gawain who describes the concept of ‘creative visualization’ to help me understand the power of positive thought and will.

Concepts: I shall focus on Nietzsche’s work in ‘The Antichrist,’ where Nietzsche’s negative attitude towards Christianity implies that the religion is stopping people from ‘truly living’ and where he argues that Christianity makes people ‘weak’ as we no longer are willed to do what is right but we merely obey forces with more power than ourselves.

Using Nietzsche and Weiss I shall compare Christianity and Buddhism and find the positives and negatives of each contrasting religion or belief.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Nature vs Nurture. Why do Serial Killers Kill?

Can a serial killer ever be moral or good? What leads someone to kill repeatedly? Is it a genetic fault or the result of a neglected childhood?

In this project I have chosen to explore the illustrious philosophical debate of Nature vs Nurture in the context of serial killers. I want to better understand how the mind of a killer works and come to a strong supposition of whether of not it is something that they innately possess within their minds, a ‘killing gene’ or whether their behaviour is a result of the evils of society and an unkempt upbringing. On a philosophical front I am going to explore Free will and Determinism, Hobbes and Mill’s Direct and Indirect Obligation and Kant’s Intuitionism and Moral Conscience.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Are Holidays Part of Our Real Lives or an Escape into Unreality?






The Schopenhauerian man voluntarily takes upon himself the suffering involved in being truthful.’

The quote is bound up with Nietzsche’s view that most people don’t like seeing reality as it is, i.e. the one and only reality there is. People prefer all the illusions, which the apparent world gives us by way of hope that we will enter the real true world where everything will be alright; for example heaven or even on holidays.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Conjoined Twins: If a woman is knowingly pregnant with conjoined twins, is it a fairer act to abort them rather than to carry on with her pregnancy, due to the quality of life they will experience?

This year I used the topic conjoined twins in my project. I was inspired to do so after watching a channel four documentary, ‘Bodyshock: The twins who share a brain’. This featured two sets of female craniopagis (joined by the head) twins one pair 48 years older than their junior. After realising the presence of lots of sets of conjoined twins alive today I began to query far reaching questions about the nature of their life. I used these girls as empirical research and included lots of quotes from interviews with 49 year old Schappell twins Reba and Lori in order to help me answer the question above. I also read their biography, and several books about conjoined twins in general and especially their sociological transition through history.

I also used philosophy and practically applied the notion of aborting conjoined twins, to the theories of two philosophers John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. For Mill the abortion would be acceptable according to his hedonistic greatest number principle. I argued using quotes from Mill’s work that he would opt for them to be aborted since they would inflict various levels of pain upon all those involved. Kant would not accept their abortion, he would see it as a virtue of their mother not to do this, and sees abortion in general as a non-universalizable maxim. In order to do this I read several books on the philosophers some are listed below. I then explained in my own words what each of the philosophers would say about this issue. I started my project by thinking that the quality of lives of twins eternally joined together would be very low, but by the end of the project I had completely changed my mind. I learned that conjoined twins do not mind (even favour) their situation, possibly because it is all they have known. All the evidence I found showed them stating emphatically that they would not wish for separation even if it was possible. They claimed not feeling a sense of unwillingly feeling trapped to another person as I imagined. They have also found a purpose and place among society in the twenty first century in a way that they did not in the eighteenth as were forced to join the freak show. Therefore I agreed with Mill over Kant but for different reasons and in my conclusion I argued their case using evidence of the excellent life quality conjoined twins have experienced in the past.

Dreger, A. (2004) One of us, Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal. Harvard University Press, London.

Mill, J S. (2001) Utilitarianism. Hackett Publishing Company, United States of America.

Guyer, P. (2006) Kant. Routledge Publishing, Abingdon.

Face to Face: The Schappell Twins (2000 United States of America) Television Broadcast. Ellen Weissbrod. New York, A&E Television Networks. Documentary and Living channel, 05/01/2000 8pm, Series 2 Episode, 3.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Violence Vindicated: Can Violence as a Means of Protest Be Justified?

The recent surge in protest activity both nationally and internationally and the inclusion of violent means within these protests opens up a debate as to whether a violent protest can ever be justified. The aim of my project is to explore the possibility of a justification of violence; my context is therefore that of ethics, politics and law. Through the method of axiological critique, I intend to consider the value of violence and whether it is applicable in a protest situation. As protest is generally a part of the political realm it is a political justification of violence that I aim to find. The main philosophical theories that are engaged with in the project are theories which closely explore the notions of protest and violence and are therefore extremely relevant. They are:

– The Just War Theory 
– John Rawls’ Theory of Civil Disobedience 
– Sartre’s discussion of violence 
– Foucault’s discussion of resistance

With regards to the Just War theory, I aim to establish whether the principles which already justify violence in war can justify violence in a protest. An exploration of John Rawls’ Civil Disobedience argues the case for non-violent means of protest. In contrast, Sartre’s discussion of violence considers the necessity of violence as a form of protest. Exploring violent protest in relation to Foucault means considering his views on resistance and power.

Ultimately, I hope to reach a credible conclusion as to whether violence can be proven to be a justified means of protest using the support of political philosophical theories.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

“Madness. Death. Passion. Perfection.” A Philosophical Commentary of Black Swan and The Red Shoes

Is madness a symptom of a quest for perfection, or is madness a social failure? Is it passion that kills us, or does death consume us once our passion is achieved? These are the territories I will explore in response to my concept of Black Swan and The Red Shoes.

Black Swan and The Red Shoes are cinematic experiences of the ballet world, and of a passion that leads to madness and death. One protagonist is trapped by a perfection that makes her envy her lucid alter ego, and the other protagonist is torn between the love of her work and the love of her life. Both are alike in a tragic finale of death. But it must be asked – was it the ballet that led to their downfall, or were they in themselves a destructive force?

Apollonian + Dionysian ≠ A Beautiful Soul

Nietzsche’s Apollonian and Dionysian from The Birth of Tragedy, proved that the ballerinas were tormented. The Apollonian was the “ethical deity” of the innocent white swan, and the “self knowledge” of outstanding ballet ability. The “chaotic” Dionysian was the seducing black swan, and despairing romance. In being torn between two passions, and two perfections, the ballerinas became mad.

Schiller’s notion of the “Beautiful Soul” reveals why. There must be inner harmony between the formal and sense drives in order to have a beautiful soul. In always allowing the Dionysian to devour the Apollonian, the ballerinas could never have harmony. Real perfection was in the culmination of both passions.

A Tragic Finale

Nietzsche enforced that “the continuing development of art is tied to the duality of the Apollonian and the Dionysian” , whilst Freud warned that satisfying dreams could hide “painful ideas”. The ballerinas could not equate their two passions, and so their art could not continue. Death became inevitable. Their aspirations were not pleasurable, they were painful.

Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation discusses madness a symbol of passion verses madness a social fault. It allows the conclusion that the ballerinas cause their own downfall. And death became a necessity. Madness and torment was seeping into their art. It was slowly destroying their inability. And so they had to die, because it was the only way to preserve the legacy of their passion.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

The Punishment of a Serial Killer. Is Utility Morality?

CONCEPT: The mind behind serial murder and the influence of mental illness on our judgement of correct punishment.

PHILOSOPHY: Mill’s Utilitarianism and Mill’s Speech in Favour of Capital Punishment; exploring contradictions, claims of morality and the influence of human nature.

SOURCES: newspaper reports, true story based films along with texts on Capital Punishment by Hodgkinson and Schabas and secondary texts on utilitarianism such as Utilitarian ethics by A. Quinton.

It was the relationship between mental illness and crimes of murder that first inspired my investigation into the punishment of a serial killer. I began to question what evidence of mental illness meant for the responsibility of the crime and how the law ought to respond to this. My initial intuition is that regardless of this, murder rates MUST be reduced, and so the introduction of a harsher punishment is necessary. Although, I am aware this causes problems when bringing up any causes that may have influenced the murder.

My aim is to use various reactions to the controversial issue of the death penalty to construct whether it is right to make judgements and decisions based purely on the ‘utility’ of the outcome.

Our reasons for and against capital punishment may not have an outcome of utility in mind but purely ‘what is right’. As well as the mental state of the criminal, many of us cannot but care for the right to life of the criminal, even for he who commits the worst crime imagin

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

What is the Appeal of Intoxication Through Drug Use and is Society Right to Condemn It?

My project is an investigation into the ETHICS OF DRUG USE.

I used questionnaires and surveys done in the last 4 years on young people and most particularly, CLUBBERS. My empirical research showed me that the WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST, as almost 2 MILLION people use illegal substances EVERY MONTH.

I found that the EFFECTS OF DRUGS are EXAGGERATED in the media to support the SOCIAL ATTITUDE OF CONDEMNATION. I presented the arguments that DAVID HUSAK, a legal philosopher, puts forward as to why DRUGS SHOULD BE LEGALISED.

I explored the MOTIVATION BEHIND DRUG USE and concluded that for most, recreational drug use consists of a HEDONISTIC SEARCH FOR PLEASURE.

I used MILL’S HARM PRINCIPLE to explain why he might not condemn drug use, since in itself, it does not harm others and also looked into his ATTITUDE TO ALCOHOL. I also looked into a possible UTILITARIAN COUNTER ARGUMENT.

GUY DEBORD and the SITUATIONISTS help us to understand the CONDEMNATION of drug use by the MEDIA.

My most interesting CONCLUSION is that while we permit the consumption of alcohol, we must also PERMIT DRUG USE.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Can Right Abuses be Justified in Guantanemo Bay?

• A study of how the unconvicted detainees are subject to torture through ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ in Guantanamo Bay.

• I will relate this to Mill’s Utilitarianism, in particular to the Harm Principle: people are free until they harm others.

•I will reconcile this with Mill’s On Liberty which expresses that we should maximize happiness and in the absence of harm, never restrict one’s liberty.

Discussion: Mills states that it is only in cases of self-defence or direct harm on society, in which we can intervene with restrictions. It is true that we have to safe guard the security and autonomy of everyone. Although, when human rights are violated, it is often the case the violator will perceive their action to be in the best interests of society. (Guards/workers at Guantanamo bay) This is the short fall of Guantanamo Bay, rights should not be violated but should be best calculated to promote the good.

I will explore:
1. The life of the Binyam Mohamed, held at Guantanamo Bay for five years but released without conviction.

2. What would be Mill’s response to Guantanamo Bay closing?

3. Does this pose a threat to society?

4. Are they too dangerous to set free?

5. Do we have a right to control where they are placed, inside our borders or back to their homelands?

6. If they are not convicted, is it right that we can impinge on their liberty? Surely they are FREE.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Safe as Houses? Public versus Private: a Philosophical Look into Housing in Britain Compared with that Found in Denmark

My project is an investigation into the housing market and provision in Great Britain and whether its needs alteration and if so what and how. This is done by direct comparison to Danish Housing provision.

I will be looking into the current system in Britain whilst referring to three economic philosophers: Marx, Keynes and Freidman. I will also consider whether our system is satisfactory and just. In addition, I will focus on the positives and negatives of a housing economy compared with Government provision.

I took sources from the people affected by private investment housing: the tenants of the Duke of Devonshire.

In interviewed those in council housing and those who owned privately.

I also looked into Government rental documents and the statistics in the private housing market in the Estate Agent ‘Savills’ review

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Capitalism, Fashion & Freedom: an Exploration into the Freedom of Choice in Modern Britain

– In this project I will be exploring the idea of liberty within a capitalist society… is the ‘free’ society we think we live in really that ‘free’?
– In terms of fashion: ideas of seasonal fashion change and the choice available in fashion outlets currently as well as the influence of the media, including social media.

Looking at the effect of the economical system of capitalism on society in modern Britain, I have chosen to look at philosophical ideas of Marx and Hegel to compare and contrast their views on it.

In light of the exploration into philosophical theory, I will further the study by using and applying the concepts to analyse the issue of capitalism, freedom and fashion. Using the arguments of Marx and Hegel applied to the idea of the freedom of fashion in society at the present time I will conclude by asking whether capitalism is working to the advantage or disadvantage of our liberty.E690

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Nietzsche – Aesthetic Jesus?

How far can we know ‘truth’ From artistic works? Comparing Nietzsche’s thought that we are living in delusion with Ayn Rand’s bitter Objectivism. Can we know and reflect an external reality through painting? Using Nietzsche’s ‘On Truth and Lies in a non-moral sense’ and Rand’s ‘The Romantic Manifesto’. In essence, we cannot attain rigid truth, but there are degrees of truth which we can have access to through our senses, even if delusional, these hold some consistencies. With Euclidean geometry, traditional versus modern art, Adorno, and quantum art…

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Anarchism: the Path to Freedom

Aims: 
To highlight the impotence, invalidity and ineffectiveness of our current economic and political systems. Whilst illustrating the detriment this causes to our social and personal lives.
To promote Anarchism as a means to securing greater freedom and liberty whilst overcoming the problems of our current system.

Kropotkin – A collection of Revolutionary writings.  
Nietzsche – Thus spoke Zarathustra  
Chomsky – On Anarchism

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

The Origin of Plagiarism (or Why Copying is Good)

In my project I intend to look at the historical genealogy of plagiarism and how it has come to be seen negatively in contemporary society. I will attempt at giving a counter argument to the negative nature of plagiarism.

In the first chapter I will begin by arguing that in pre-modern society copying and indeed imitation were promoted as being tools to preserve tradition, and as a way to intellectual enlightenment.

In the second chapter I will look at the way the invention of the printing press influenced society and made people more concerned with originality and plagiarism from perspectives of private property and authenticity.

In the third chapter I will argue that plagiarism as a concept has been invented and that everything anyone ever says or writes derives from something that has already occurred.

Some texts I have included in my work are: T.S.Eliot: The Sacred Wood, Matthew Arnold: Culture and Anarchy, Sartre: Being and Nothingness, Kierkegaard: Repetition, Borges: Labyrinths, Aristotle: Poetics and Hegel: Elements of the philosophy of Right

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy Behind Recession: a Study of Contemporary Economics Through Philosophy

An investigation on how the US reached a destination of an estimated 200 trillion in debt. How is it that America can possibly be named the Land of the Free? In a country with a constitution claiming ‘all men are created equal’; why is it that 15% of the population live below the poverty line? Can the ‘poster boy’ of Capitalism be considered moral? The USA is an economic powerhouse with an annual GDP of 14.6 trillion dollars. However, 42% of $14.6 Trillion is controlled by just under 1% of the population.

I intend to investigate the evolution of the global capitalist economy and its current state of disarray. Marxist rhetoric will serve, amongst several thinkers such as Engels, Machiavelli, Ayn Rand, Sun Tzu and Emmanuel Levinas in investigating the evolution of the US Capitalist system.
Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, a damning indictment of corporate America, will be used as the cornerstone for my arguments against big business and the ever widening gulf between the rich and the poor.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Has our Society Been Changed by the Increasing Influence of the Television?

– “Television is by now so inextricably part of all our domestic lives that it resists analysis.” (Fred Inglis) 
– In this project my aim is to examine how the television has affected our lives in the last fifty years.

Guy Debord
– In this project I will discuss Debord’s theory of mass media 
– I apply his theory to contemporary television to discuss the extent to which his argument is valid.

“A Short History of Celebrity” by Fred Inglis
– Through looking at this book I have examined how the television has affected the celebrity 
– I have compared David Beckham to Stanley Matthews to see how the television has affected the footballer as the celebrity

Political Affect
– I have examined the different propagandas used by politicians 
– I have looked at the first televised debates in 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy 
– I have discussed the extent to which the television has influenced votes.

Paris Hilton
– I have chosen Paris Hilton as a case study 
– Paris has used the media and the television to create herself as a brand which she sells

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Crimes of Passion: the Human Limits of Moral Convention

Could human natural intuitions ever be fully repressed by moral convention? Could our emotions ever be fully rationalized? Are we indeed rational beings? Is it necessary for us to be rational? What do our emotions mean? How do we direct them? In this project I will try to challenge conventional morality towards the feeling we have for something that is considered to be wrong, namely murder. I will use the method of reflective equilibrium in order to test moral philosophy and convention with the authentic human intuitions. Human life is indeed valuable but the main point is that human impulses cannot (or maybe, should not) be fully rationalized.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

True (?) Romance. How has the Ideal of Love Been Lost in Contemporary United Kingdom and What Are the Ramifications?

Current relationships are under strain due to the gap between fictional love (the ideal) and genuine love. Marriage and monogamy are the metanarrative structures and institutions of the ideal of love that are causing tension in love, requiring paramours to be more consistent than their identity allows for. As identity lacks an origin without the ideal, it becomes relative to the Other in a cyclical relationship that causes identity to be in constant flux. Without a stable base on which to love, the ideal can longer function.

Therefore if agents still want to love, then they must accept that each moment is unique and the only ground for love is the individual’s experience of the other in the Other. The essay is heavily influenced by the works of Jacques Derrida (Violence and Metaphysics), Jean-Paul Sartre (Being and Nothingness) and Emmanuel Levinas (Totality and Infinity).

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Journalism Ethics: Integrity in Reporting

• Key concept: the invasion of individual’s privacy in relation to public interest
• Do journalists always have the sole intention of providing us with the truth?
• Do they pursue the truth by the right means for the right reasons?

• Mill’s Harm Principle
• Pragmatism as a theory of truth
• Correspondence Theory of Truth
• Kant’s Moral Philosophy: Obligation

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Linking Heidegger’s Essay The Question Concerning Technology to the Changes of Technology within Football from the 1960s to the Present Day

The aim of my project is to link Heidegger’s essay The Question Concerning Technology to the changes of technology within football from the 1960s to the present day.

From watching the 1966 World Cup Final, England vs. West Germany and the 2010 Tyne-Wear Derby, Newcastle United vs. Sunderland, and also with the use of some useful websites, I would be able to highlight the changes of technology within football. These are the six changes of technology within football which I have highlighted:

1. Picture Quality/Display
2. Replays
3. Capturing of the Game play/Emotions
4. Football boots
5. The Football
6. Co-commentary/Audio

I will explain Heidegger’s essay The Question Concerning Technology from his book The Questioning Concerning Technology, and relate the changes of technology within football to the relevant parts of his theory.

A few examples of linking Heidegger’s theory to the changes of technology within football

– Heidegger talks about how modern technology reveals but also challenges, and I linked this to the development in the replays from the 1960s to today in the use of different camera angles which reveals more of what just happened, e.g. of a goal scored or challenging a decision made by the referee.
– Heidegger talks about how nature’s energy has become a standing reserve and how nature is now a resource of technological exploitation. As well, we ourselves are situated in the standing reserve as human resources. I linked this to the development in camera angles in capturing more emotions in football today than in the 1960s, therefore making football more of a standing reserve. Why? More is revealed (captured) in the match for the television audience.