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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity and Relationships on Social Networking Sites

Is the intermediation of identity and presentation, that is so predominant on Facebook, being prescribed as confrontational and uncompromising interaction OR is there a discrepancy between the “online” & “offline” self?

How do we identify ourselves and others on Facebook?
Do we alter our identities- for better or worse- as we re-create ourselves online?

Facebook links millions of people, in new spaces. It is changing the way we think, the form of our communities, our very identities.

If Facebook has such a significant influence over users, does it have an influence on how we identify ourselves and other people?

In Heidegger’s essay entitled, ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, he studies modern technology. He attempts to prepare us for a “free relationship” with the existence of technology. However can we have “free-relationship” social networking sites?

“The strange feature of the Facebook friendship raises an immediate question: is it really a “friendship” at all?”
‘From boredom and necessity, man wishes to exist socially.’ Nietzsche
“A genuine friend is someone who loves or likes another person for the sake of that other person.” Aristotle

Taking in Aristotle’s account of friendship would the relationships on Facebook be justified?

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Gap Year and Finding Oneself: a Philosophical Discussion

It has been a growing phenomenon in recent years for young people to take a year out from education. There are a number reasons for this but the one most often given, the one which stands out above all others, is ‘to find oneself’. This project aims to explore the validity of such a claim in conjunction with the thought of Alain de Botton and Jean Paul Sartre. In order to offer the discussion some context I shall also be drawing on my own experiences volunteering in Africa.

De Botton’s work The Art of Travel is an investigation into the philosophical aspects of travel. From the anticipation of the trip, to the poetic nature of the journey, to the adventure itself and even the reflections upon your return. The entire experience is conducive to being potentially life changing, and as such no detail is left out. His over riding suggestion is that we travel in order to temporarily escape our ordinary, well established lives and that we have an inherent desire to wander without purpose for a time.

To support these claims I have also used Sartre’s phenomenology, as he makes the claim that consciousness constructs the ego. We only really become our true selves when we reflect on things and it is very much dependent on our mood or state at the time of the experience. His entire theory is building up to the fact that our consciousness is what frees us. A fact which is absolutely key in understanding how experience changes us. When this is applied to the concept of travel it becomes apparent that we may have a particular viewpoint or opinion of a place before we go there, but our experiences there will inevitably alter that preconception. As these change, as does our conception of self.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Cinema Violence. Quentin Tarantino in the World of Aesthetics and the Problem of Beauty in Evil

Territory: Cinema Violence

Object: Quentin Tarantino

Concepts: Audience emotion, aesthetic formalism, the problem of beauty in evil.

Philosophers: Noël Carroll, Mary Devereux, Joseph Kupfer, Quentin Tarantino

Objectives
– To better understand the arguments put forward by Quentin Tarantino for his use of violence.
– To further explore these ideas in the context of philosophy of audience and aesthetics.

– How has violent cinema developed?
– What is Tarantino’s role in the history of cinema violence?
– What is Tarantino’s relationship with his audience?
– What is Tarantino’s aesthetic philosophy?
– Where does Tarantino fit in with the problem of finding beauty in evil?

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

President Kagame What makes a legitimate Leader?

Hobbes
State of Nature/ Rwandan genocide

Rousseau
One’s right to obey a power does not legitimise power

State of Peace with Sovereign Kagame

Kagame’s possible move to Democracy to legitimise his power

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

“The Moment You Are Old Enough to Take the Wheel, Responsibility Lies with You” – J.K. Rowling. Is This Always the Case?

This project sets out to examine the concept of responsibility with particular reference to the way in which certain individuals behave. It is perhaps a common assumption that we are all responsible for our own actions, however, this can be difficult to justify if an individual’s actions are out of character or unusual. Furthermore different situations may influence how we act and how we view our responsibility. Using pertinent case studies to provide examples, the intention is to analyse and synthesise factors that can be said to influence behaviour and impact on responsibility. Following on from this the philosophical thoughts of Kant, Foucault and Lyotard will be examined in an attempt to reach an understanding as to whether moral responsibility stems from what is within us or the environment in which we live.

Immanuel Kant –
1785 Grounding for the metaphysic of morals
1788 Critique of practical reason
1797 The metaphysics of morals

Michael Foucault –
1975 Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
1982 The Subject and Power
1954-1984 Power

Jean-Francis Lyotard –
1962 Dead Letter
1984 The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Do all Foetuses Have a Right to Life?

Philosophy:
Aquinas: Deontological based theory.

The most basic principles to Natural Law involves a particular absolute truth: Everything has one nature that defines what it is

Aristotle: Aristotle argues that moral virtues are states of character lying at the mean between extremes of excess and deficiency.

Peter Singer: Analyses why and how living beings interests should be weighed. His ethics takes into consideration all species. He argues that not all things do have an inherent right to life, by virtue of being ‘human’.

Project aims:
To understand whether all foetuses do have a right to life, due to the fact they are a potential human being, or is this something that needs to be weighed against other factors?
To see whether Natural law theory still has a place in society? Is a strict deontological ethical theory out of tune with modern society?
Can virtue theory solve many of the problems we now face with the morality of abortion?
Is there any objective answer to such a sensitive moral dilemma?
What are the benefits of using an ethical theory over another when faced with moral dilemmas such as abortion?
Can traditional philosophy hold the solutions to modern day moral dilemmas?

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Animal Farm: Does the Subtle and Binary Nature of Philosophy Fail where Literature Succeeds?

IS ANIMAL FARM A COMMENT ON SOVIET RUSSIA? A COMMENT ON THE PITFALLS OF MARXIST THEORY? A COMMENT ON HUMAN NATURE WITH REGARDS TO POWER? OR IS THIS A LIMITING VIEW OF TRUTH? CAN LITERATURE SHOW US GREATER TRUTH?

HEIDEGGER:
THE POWER OF POETRY FOR A HIGHER TRUTH, A TRANSCENDANCE OF OUR SITUATION TO REVEAL THE BEING-OF-BEINGS

FOUCAULT:
SURELY THERE IS NOT SUCH A THING AS RESISTANCE OR TRUTH? EVERYTHING IS PART OF THE SYSTEM OF POWER, EVEN IDENTITY, SO CAN ORWELL BE ANYTHING MORE THAN AN IDENTITY CREATED BY POWER’S MECHANISM?

VATTIMO:
ONCE WE ACCEPT THAT WE ARE HISTORICALLY CONTINGENT AND THERE IS NO ‘TRUTH’ WE CAN WORK WITHIN THE SYSTEM OF UNDERSTANDING TO TRANSCEND OUR GIVEN VALUES THROUGH OSCILLATORY NIHILISTIC HERMENEUTICS: CRITICAL THOUGHT: IS THIS WHAT ORWELL ACHIEVES?

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind” (Orwell, 1984)

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

The Church of Scientology

One of the fastest growing new religious movements in history, The Church of Scientology claim they possess the ultimate answer to existence, inviting the individual to sign a billion year contract to aid L Ron Hubbard and his missionaries on the road to total freedom. Scientology is a highly controversial movement, labelled by many as a dangerous and abusive religious cult. What is it about Scientology that attracts the masses? Psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung posited a clinical viewpoint on religious belief and practice.

Philosophers in their own right, their psychological theories of religious belief can be applied to religious cults such as Scientology. Freud judged religious faith to be a neurotic need, with belief bringing some comfort to our search for a father figure. In contrast Jung posited religious belief has underlying therapeutic value, giving the agent a chance to achieve emotional closure and human ‘wholeness.’ Nietzsche and Dawkins argue such benefits come at the cost of delusion. Cults appear to bring contentment – at a cost.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

“Between Knowing and Being”

Part One; What is knowing and its limits Part Two; What are the limits of knowing the individual self. Part Three; The Social ‘I’ Throughout this project I aim to understand the subjective ‘self.’ I am ultimately investigating this area because in the UK, the Mental Health Foundation has claimed that “1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.” In my opinion this figure is drastic, and therefore I believe that an understanding of the human mind is crucial in overcoming the problems we currently face in our society.  1. I commenced with an investigation into the development of knowledge throughout Western history, beginning with Kant and Newton. This will enable me to analyse how successfully we can attain an understanding of the self. I discover that the scientific method itself is proven to be limited and non-universal. The examples I looked at as a potential cause of this were Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the discovery of Quantum Mechanics, and also the theories of Existentialist Philosophers. As demonstrated by Watts (1957), arguably any new Western theories turn out to be mere restatements of old positions. 2. I then looked into Western conceptions of the self from statements of neuroscience and theories proposed by phenomenologists and philosophers of mind. Naturally Western Science excludes any investigation of the self from its domain by requiring an identifiable object to which we can apply mathematics to. 3. The revelation of our limits in knowledge will consequently lead me to investigate an alternate conception of the human self and the ability to attain knowledge. This originates in the Eastern world, in both Taoism and Zen Buddhism. This focuses on an alternate type of knowledge such as the unconscious knowledge we have of moving our hands. Crucially the conscious thinking process is not the centre of the mind’s activity. As we directly experience reality, it is in the realm of the non-verbal. 4. This lead me to understand the nature of language, which I discovered is extremely limited in providing an explanation of the world. Language by nature is linear because it allows us to make rapid grasps of our thoughts, which we can think of only one at a time, however this causes a depiction of the world as static and fragmented. 5. Heidegger argues that we can have a liberation from these social conventions, by appealing to the notion of an original spontaneous being who exists priori to being influenced by social codes. However, I have argued that this notion that anything can remain constant is unlikely. 6. Furthermore, I believe that it is impossible to try to understand an isolated individual self in the Western sense, because through language the social aspect is fundamental to our nature. Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, John Teasdale and Jon Kabat-Zinn (2007) have promoted this form of Eastern understanding as being beneficial to those with mental health problems, and I believe this significantly demonstrates that Western scientific knowledge is certainly not a superior discipline. 

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Wealth Distribution: the Problem of the World Economy

Currently, across the globe, wealth distribution is an enormous issue. 40% of the world’s total wealth belongs to just 1% of the population. In America, 73.1% of the nation’s wealth belongs to just 10% of the population.

In my essay I seek to explore the conditions of political economy that guided such inequality into reality. The theory of neoliberalism, to which Margaret Thatcher subscribed, preaches the right to private property as the fundamental human right. In maintaining such a right we can work towards creating equality by offering equal opportunities to everybody to make a financial success of ourselves. Obviously, however, the theory in practice does not yield such results, resulting in the restoration of class power and vast income and wealth gaps.

My aim is to offer a criticism of neoliberalism after examining the origins of capitalism, in Adam Smith; the opposing ideals of communism, in Marx; and the wealth of data that points to the flaws of our current economic system.

Ultimately, I hope to decide for myself what the best form of political economy is in terms of minimising inequality by reading Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Can American Foreign Policy Between 1945 and 1989 Be Explained? Understanding the Role of Philosophy in International Relations Theory

This paper locates the origins of international relations theory in the philosophical tradition.

By exploring these foundations I develop a complex understanding of the content, qualities and development of IR theory.

This enquiry is designed in order to demonstrate the following claim: that in order for philosophy to remain a valuable discipline it must adapt.

Over the course of the paper a number of thinkers are referenced: Hobbes, Kant and Hume are primary focuses.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Depression in an Age of Control: Towards a Phenomenology of Mental Illness

THINKERS:

LEVINAS – There is
VIRNO – Precarity
HEIDEGGER – Value of inauthentic everydayness?
DELEUZE – Discipline -> Control Individuals -> “Dividuals”

ACCOUNTS OF DEPRESSION:
– SOLOMON
– STYRON

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Who Controls the Past Controls the Future, Who Controls the Present Controls the Past. A Discussion into the Manipulation of History in Relation to Power in Orwell’s 1984

The Novel
Big Brother, Continuous war, ever present government surveillance, mind control, eradication of independent thought, manipulation of history and written record

Power
Power in its third dimension:
Being complicit in one’s own domination
Ideologies are promoted; the masses are forced to believe that what they think is in their interests are furthering the interests of those in power

Hegel
Culture and knowledge are liberating; culture makes an individual rational
The course of history is governed through a development of ‘progress’
Progress toward emancipation and empowerment

Lyotard
Crisis in modernity; loss of belief in metanarratives
Power is maintained through a manipulation of historical record
no one can ‘know’ anything anymore; the interests of those in power are maintained

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

What Is the Working Relationship Between the Concept of Consent and the Mechanism of Democracy? A Case Study on the Legitimacy of the House of Lords

This project aims to explore the concept of consent and the mechanism of democracy. With such similar theoretical credentials, it is often assumed that their practical compatibility is a naturally harmonious one. However, the fact that both ideas cover similar territory means that a zero-sum relationship between the ideas obliges particular models of consent to correspond to particular versions of democracy. A case study on the House of Lords and plans to reform the second chamber provides interesting material for discussion. The discussion observes the House of Lords’ alternative claim to democratic credentials and how the basis for consent must adopt a hypothetical character in order to accommodate this changed relationship between the state and its citizenry.

The project includes:
•a preliminary outline of the heritage of the question; political legitimacy and political obligation
•a presentation of the evolution of consent
•a case study
the House of Lords profile
the problem
the House of Lords defence
•a discussion engaging the political philosophical concepts with the case study

Locke’s understanding of consent helps to provide a paradigmatic definition of consent from which to refer to as the concept changes dynamics under different modes of democracy.
Lord Grenfell engages with Fabienne Peter, author of Stanford Encyclopedia entry “Political Legitimacy” in his defence of the political legitimacy of the House of Lords. He lays claim to a hypothetical version of consent and a democratic character which is both procedural and concerned for outcomes.
Parkinson recognises deliberative democracy as a suitable account of the House of Lords’ efforts to maintain a rational and informed approach to decision making.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity in the Face of Our Modern Digitalised Society

For my project, I researched into the way the internet, particularly social networking sites such as Facebook and Second Life, have impacted on the contemporary project of self-identity. Does the virtual world encourage us to maintain our real identity, or instead create artificial and fake identities? From this, I looked at how the internet and virtual identities are used as a means of control and power over others. The internet is so readily available to everyone in our modern world, and people are beginning to communicate with strangers online, yet unable to determine who their real identity actually is.

THE PHILOSOPHY
BAUMAN – his concept of ‘Liquid Modernity’ and how this has affected our self-identity.

GIDDENS – his theory of ‘Reflexive Modernity’ and how it has caused individuals to engage in a reflexive project of the self. Identity as reflexive and fluid.

ADORNO – his philosophy on the ‘Culture Industry’. The ‘reification’ of language and concept of ‘identity thinking’.

HEIDEGGER – the concepts of ‘authenticity and inauthenticity. The understanding of human life as finite – the internet allows identity to extend into the infinite.

CONCEPTS
– The historical development of Identity. Looking at how it has changed since our digitalised society
– Identity as the process of ‘becoming’ not simply ‘being’
– The Real vs the Artificial ( the real world vs the virtual world) (the real self vs the protean/virtual self)
– Authentic identity vs inauthentic identity
– The virtual world as infinite vs the finitude of the real human body
– Power and manipulation of online identity
– The issue of trust

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Is Moral Photojournalism Possible?

This project looks at photojournalism and the role it plays in our culture. Whether or not photojournalism is ethical and, if it isn’t, what is the function of it?

Focusing specifically on the work of Kevin Carter in the Sudan in 1993, this project explores these topics through critical examination of Theodor W. Adorno’s discourses on Culture as mass deception and Martin Heidegger’s essay On the Origin of the Work of Art.

It will explore the idea of the roles played in society by the photograph, the photographer and the media, and bring to light the idea of the ‘icon of outrage’ as a necessary feature, both for our society and culture and for ethical realisation.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Legacy of the Beat Generation in Contemporary Culture

The changing shape of the search for meaning in American Literature, what does it mean to be ‘human’ today?

Comparing Don Delillo’s vision of contemporary culture and humanity to Beat literature, to explore how technology and mass culture have changed the nature of Being.

Using Heidegger to compare the authentic Beat human to the inauthentic contemporary human.

Does the resurgence of interest in the Beat Generation imply the effort to reclaim authentic life?

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Hegemony of the Housed. A Foucauldian Reading of Homelessness in Modern Britain

Foucault’s focus on discourse notes language as establishing structures within society that exercise power.

Power/Knowledge reinforces social control and normalization of people – including the exclusion of those outside desired social norms – these are constructs of language and culture

Post-structuralist ideas reminiscent of the panopticon of Jeremy Bentham – in which all people/employees are observed at all times by those in control. This leads to the hegemony of the normalized people (in this context – the housed)

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

An Enquiry into the Nature of Animal-Human Distinction and its Effects on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

• HYPOTHESIS- Theoretical explanations of the nature of animality through the use of distinctive measures and qualifications which serve to diminish ethical consideration of animals in modern scenarios. Improved ethical consideration of animals needs to take place and so these distinctions should be considered.

• AIMS OF ENQUIRY- Explain the nature of animal through the animal-human distinction from the perspective of Heidegger. Attempt to show that these theoretical accounts are unworthy of providing ethical formulations for the treatment of animals. Consider the idea of ethical reform in the works of Peter Singer.

• Use of primary data and analysis from Heidegger (The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics), Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I am) and Singer (Animal Liberation) as evidence for nature of human-animal distinction that leads to influence of ethical treatment of animals

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2013 Abstracts Stage 2

The Phenomenology of Music and Human Nature

This project aims to analyse the deep connection between humanity’s development, both evolutionary and cultural to the production and fascination of music.

Key Concepts and Ideas:
Naturalism – Every mechanism is a result of the laws of nature
Semiotics – The study of signs, representation and meaning.
Reductionism – All sciences and phenomenon can be reduced to a single set of principles; a unifying theory of everything.

Key Philosophers and Researchers:
Darwin, C..
Pierce, C.
Bowman, D.
Cochran, G.
DeNora, T.
Kania, A.
Mithen, S.
Pierre, J.
Rahn, J.
Spano, R.