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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

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

LOOKING AT NIETZSCHE AND HIS CRITQUE AGAINST THE `’REAL” AND “APPARENT” WORLD

IS THERE ONLY ONE WORLD? IF SO WHICH ONE ARE WE LIVING IN?

IS A HOLIDAY A FORM OF AN ILLUSION?

ARE WE BORN INTO A CULTURE OF ESCAPISM?

IN OUR ESCAPISM CAN WE STILL FIND TRUTH?

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.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Does the Revived Television Series “Doctor Who” (2005-Present) Provide a Positive Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy?

“God is Dead”

Stephen Hawking stated in “The Grand Design” (2010) that “philosophy is dead”, and certainly as far as furthering our understanding of the physical nature of the Universe, that job seems much better suited to physicists than Priests and Theologians. However this increasingly empiricist attitude of society has lead to a crisis of values and an onset of nihilism.

It’s my opinion that of all the philosophers I’ve studied Friedrich Nietzsche, despite dying over a Century ago, grasps and provides the most convincing answer to the potentially valueless existence we face today. Nietzsche’s answer isn’t a normative one however but is in need of personal study and analysis by all who seek to learn something from it.

Go Beyond Good and Evil by journeying through time and Space

I’ve chosen to use “Doctor Who” (2005-present) as a way of interpreting and critiquing Nietzsche’s moral philosophy.

I feel I’m justified in this comparison given the immensely positive critical reception of this series which is often praised for being innovative and challenging, recently being described as a show that: “makes your mind work…” by the site www.avtoday.co.uk.

And Crucially the head producers Russell T Davies and Stephen Moffat have not only got a reputation for exploring deep philosophical issues with their dramas in a way that often borders on the unnerving, but both their runs of “Doctor Who” have been characterized by an undeniably existentialist and atheistic edge. Going so far as to pit the protagonist against the devil itself!

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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.

Sources…
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.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

A Second Enlightenment: A Revolution in Education

In this project, borrowing from the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, I shall argue that with the increase of technology, the spread of capitalism and the loss of ambiguity in language, a second Enlightenment is needed; in order to save man from destroying, and losing his ambiguous relationship with the world. I shall argue that the only way for man to avoid such fate is through a revolution in education. I shall draw on the educationalists Ken Robinson, and Mary Evans to demonstrate that contemporary education is failing children, for multiple reasons. Essentially modern education systems have turned into businesses, as such not only do they restrict creativity in the class room, but they are ensuring ‘cut-backs’ in creative subjects.

I shall draw on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze to demonstrate why creativity and creative thinking are an essential attribute of any individual. Moreover I shall argue alongside Jean François Lyotard, that the modern world calls for order and structure which is dramatically limiting the creative abilities of individuals in our society. Thus my proposal is that the only way to change this ordered, scientific mind-set, inherited from the Enlightenment, is to revolutionise the way we educate children, so as to encourage creativity and critical thinking. Furthermore I shall argue that if this is not achieved, the conclusion could result in the end of mankind.

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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.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Singularity, Freedom & Chaos: Sartre’s Philosophy in a Backwards Universe

The object of my project is the premise behind Machine of Death, an anthology of stories about a world where people can know in advance how they will die.

The aim of my project is to establish the nature of existence as singular, through an examination of Jean-Paul Sartre’s ontological work Being and Nothingness in tandem with the collection of stories presented in Machine of Death. The question is: what is ‘singular’ existence in Sartre’s philosophy? What does it entail? And what are its implications for human existence, freedom and responsibility?

The thesis behind this endeavour is that, by examining the ontological status of the world found in Machine of Death in light of Sartre’s philosophy, we can both establish answers to these questions and open up for ourselves a new possibility; the possibility of conceiving of an existence whose fundamental state is not a stable mode of Being, but patterns of organisation in a sea of fundamental differentiation and chaos. In so doing, we point ourselves towards a new ontology: the ontology of Deleuze in Difference and Repetition.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Can Right Abuses be Justified in Guantanemo Bay?

TOPIC:
• 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.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity on a Razor’s Edge: the Dialectic of Self-Hood in “Blade Runner”

A study in the dialectic existing between the master and the slave within the post-modern situation of Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie ‘Blade Runner’, in discussing the theories found within Hegel and Nietzsche.

In the fictional early 21st Century, mankind has developed technology to such an extent that artificial beings, replicants can now be produced; these are not to be employed for the emancipation and enlightenment of man, but as slaves. They are granted no freedom and are subject to death at the end of their service or upon their return to the birth place. They are the ultimate slave, and mankind has become the ultimate master.

Their very servitude grants these replicants an identity, which forms an aspect to the dialectic which constitutes mankind’s self-hood. Hegel informs us of the need for recognition in the formation of self-hood; the master requires the slave in order to be recognised as an individual, but relationship is unequal. The slave has a greater access to the needs to man and as a result grows in humaneness leading to the eventual overthrowing of the master. This process culminates in a replicant saving the life of the police ‘Blade Runner’ who has slaughtered his friends; the civilised slave has overcome the barbaric master.

The replicants and their motivation to overthrow the shackles of their servitude and forced deaths, act as an example of Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’, by which an individual affirms their existence by overcoming the obstacles which stand between him and autonomy. This occurs as throughout the movie, the replicants, the artificial human beings, show a greater degree of humaneness than the human masters.

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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.

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

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

The Means-End Mindset of Modernity and Beyond: How Capitalism is devaluing the Education System

This project serves to assess the contemporary situation that education finds itself in within our Western Capitalistic society, before analysing the makeup of Capitalism itself. This will provide the platform for an attack on the system, where arguments will made critiquing Capitalism’s inherent characteristics; the characteristics that quash out independent thought, rational judgement and wisdom in favour of ticking boxes and tangible exam results. Education’s value as a nurturer has been lost: it has morphed into a tool for gain rather than an intrinsic virtue that has value in and of itself. The subtle and deep-rooted power systems that Capitalism makes inevitable are the cause of this.

‘Browne Report’ Lord Browne’s report on Higher Education will provide the context for this project. The report is indicative of attitudes towards education as a means, rather than an end in itself.

Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’ The father of communism will be used to outline the inherent flaws of Capitalism in terms of private property and the free market and how these affect education.

Gadamer’s ‘Treatment and Dialogue’ This hermeneutical thinker’s arguments regarding the nature of intelligence will be assessed and made relevant to the situation that education finds itself in today. Contemporarily, our education system marginalizes traditional concepts of wisdom so that independent thought becomes devalued.

Foucault’s ‘Discipline and Punish’ The climax of this critique will come with Foucault and his advocacy that, though less obvious, brutal and violent than the past, we are subject to deep-rooted power systems within the West that indirectly control our desires and actions. These affirmations will be used to highlight education’s impartiality – and the deeper consequences the way we are taught has on society as a whole.

Today, we are a docile nation with a docile mind-set. This needs to stop: education is the cause; education is the cure.

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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

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Nietzsche made me do it!!!!

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a German philosopher, notorious for his blistering eruptions on Christianity, moral conventions and contemporary modern society. Estranged from the outside world and in deep mental breakdown, Nietzsche left the world with an astounding legacy that would carry on to question and criticize traditional customs and morality long after his death. Nietzsche writings would have ramifications for more than a hundred years for how certain psychopathic criminals would distinguish and rationalize their crimes, and attribute their atrocities to the influence Nietzsche’s writing would have on them. However in every writers fan base there may be a misguided group of readers, this does not make the writer responsible for the misinterpretation and even less guilty of the perpetrators crimes. Nietzsche seems more than most writers to come under a lot of criticism and suspicion, this is partly to do with the content of his writing but also he seems to be attacked from another more biased angle, these are the people who want the mud to stick because Nietzsche seems to be threatening their value or belief system. One such writer who seems determined to tarnish the philosophers name is Katherine Ramsland, Ph. D. Graduate of the private, exclusive, Catholic DeSales University, established by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, who’s foundation for teaching are on the theology of the believed saint.

Ramslands writes an article which seems to be leaning in the direction of this bias view the title of her article was; “Existential Murder: The Nietzsche Syndrome” and within this article she claims that “Nietzsche inspired Hitler and other killers.” Within this project I will be investigating what Ramsland coined the “Nietzsche Syndrome” and looking at the killers which she suggests were influenced by Nietzsche’s philosophy. I hope to prove that not only is Nietzsche misunderstood in many of his concepts but that he can actually be looked at from a positive angle, I also hope to show how Nietzsche’s work has been used for good. In my research I have also noticed that Ramsland has handpicked the murderers she uses, but in no way compares them to killers who have not used Nietzsche as an inspiration, failing to draw any comparisons and pinning down any common traits held by killers seems as though she is trying to strengthen the blame on Nietzsche without any real investigation, I hope to provide these comparisons and links, and hopefully vindicate the work of Nietzsche.

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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).

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Is it Right for an Editor to Have so Much Influential Power?

In my project I aim to discuss whether or not individuals have too much power when it comes to the media and journalism. I will look particularly into the jobs of the editors and owners. I will do this by investigating several case studies including the 1992 general election that Murdoch believed was won due to The Sun’s Headline: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”

I will mainly be focusing on John Stuart Mill’s novel On Liberty. Mill focused on freedom of speech, believing that no matter what position or job you have in society you should always be allowed to have your own opinions. However, he also believes that individuals should not spread their opinion if it will be harmful to others. I will be looking into and analysing both of these claims.

I will also be studying Dale Jacquette’s novel Journalistic Ethics: Moral Responsibility in the Media, Heinz Steinert’s novel Culture Industry, and Political Freedom (Problems of Philosophy) by George G. Brenkert, along with many others. As well as Mill I will be critically analysing Debord’s work on the media and comparing it to other philosophers.
Overall I aim to come to a conclusion about whether or not the editors and owners of newspapers have the right to print fabricated stories, whether the facts are true or whether they are lies.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Journalism Ethics: Integrity in Reporting

Purpose
• 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?

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