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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

‘The War on Drugs’; an account of Marijuana throughout the history of the United States and how constant law reform is a product of postmodernity, with reference to Foucault.

My objective in this essay is to produce a detailed account on the history of Marijuana within the United States and to distinguish whether or not constant law reform is a result of postmodernity and the concentration of power within a society.

Firstly, I will examine Cannabis throughout the history of The United States and by doing this it will allow me to depict how the ebb and flow of acceptance has come about. Then I will address law reform and correlate it with the workings of Postmodernity in order to show how a concentration of power is able to alter the perception and experience of a social phenomenon. Lastly I will underline how the strategic, critical and rhetorical practices performed by those in power creates a clouded perception of reality.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Proportionality Disproportionate in Our Consideration of Other Nations’ Actions?

This project aims to explore the disparity between a fully-functioning international model of Hegemonic Stability and the reluctance to intervene in a country so belonging on the ash heap of history as North Korea.

By the end of this project I hope to have fully elucidated the current geopolitical state of affairs with regards to the censoring of information traffic and the contemporary misuse of a benevolent world leadership. In order to fully construct or reject the argument for intervention in the Korean Peninsula, I shall be referring to Hobbes ‘, Hegel’s Sittlichkeit and the State and Kant’s Perpetual Peace Essays.

Furthermore, in order to fully understand the political weight of such allegations, the Bush administrations’ actions in 2002 will be critically assessed, in light of present day hindsight.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy in the Boudoir. The taboo of sex: an evaluation of the significance of sexual discourse in society

Why has society repressed sexual discourse and what does this mean for an individual?

Foucault and Beauvoir explore the historical repression of sexuality and the classifications of the Enlightenment and scientific discourse. Individuals have not been able to express their sexuality publicly, as discourse of the erotic was under taboo.

How can we liberate society from the consequences of sexual repression?

Marquis de Sade asserted the importance of sexual liberation to combat all social repressions. His pornographic works, despite being violent and cruel, are fundamentally pivotal in the emancipation of sexuality from the private realm.

What was the result of the sexual revolution for sexual emancipation?

The 1960s sexual revolution is said to have begun with the publishing of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and had a major impact on sexual liberation, specifically for women, as prohibitions on discourse were protested.

What impact does the culture industry have on sexual liberty?

Adorno’s writings on mass consumerism in our capitalist society explore the limits of sexual liberty as in the public realm as they begin to cater only to the needs and desires of our consumer society

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is the Existence of Public Schools Justified?

I investigate the notion that the existence of public schools in the UK is not justified, as they are linked with social immobility – if they are a cause of social immobility, perhaps there are grounds to abolish the public school system.

Is it the right of an individual to own a disproportionate amount of private property? Should that be any different to purchasing a public school education?

I consider the opinions of Nozick, Rawls, Locke and Hegel, as I inspect whether a public school education is a piece of private property.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Relationship between Art, Politics and Architecture in a ‘Post-Political World’

With reference to:
 Rancière’s metapolitical framing of architecture and the reconstruction of Brodsky

The intention of this project is to outline three independent topics concerning: (1) Rancière’s ‘metapolitical’ framing of architecture, (2) Alexander Brodsky and Illya Utkin’s ‘Paper Architecture’, and (3) Ralph Erskine’s ‘democratic’ architecture, with the aim of analysing and assessing the question as to whether there is room for a political enquiry into the philosophy of architecture in a ‘post-political’ world.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Dream and Nightmare. A critical reading of Fukuyama’s End of History with reference to the events of September 11th, 2001 and the aftermath.

This paper is primarily a sustained critique of Fukuyama’s work on the Universal History of Mankind. It aims to explore developmental trends in global politics by interrogating the philosophical roots of perhaps the most dominant theory of the last twenty five years, extending the study I undertook in my previous project. It takes the form of a comprehensive study of Fukuyama’s theory, from its Hegelian roots to its implications for Western foreign policy. I examine this material through the prism of the events of September 11th, 2001 and the consequent aftermath. I draw from a number of secondary sources, most notably Zygmunt Bauman, Jean Baudrillard, Sam Huntington and John Gray.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

The Priest and the King: an examination of the Iranian Revolution using the outlook of Foucault to analyse the causes, course of events and outcomes.

‘As an “Islamic” movement, it can set the entire region afire, overturn the most unstable regimes, and disturb the most solid. Islam – which is not simply a religion, but an entire way of life, and adherence to a history and a civilisation – has a good chance to become a giant powder keg, at the level of hundreds of millions of men.’ Foucault predicted that the revolution in Iran would not follow the model of other modern revolutions, writing that it was instead organised around a greatly different concept which he called ‘political spirituality’. He acknowledged the huge power of the new discourse of militant Islam for the world, not just Iran. Foucault indicated that the new Islamist movement pointed at a fundamental cultural, political and social break with the modern Western order, such a discourse would amend the ‘global strategic equilibrium’. – Foucault

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Has the Sexual Objectification of Women Led to Them Being Regarded as Silent Objects and Consequently Aided the Creation of a ‘Rape Culture’?

Project aims:
To explore different areas of the media (such as advertising, TV and films) to assess the level of sexual objectification that people will view on a daily basis.

Explore the inequalities that women still face in modern society and assess whether the situation is improving or growing worse.

Assess rape statistics – especially in respect to how many rapes occur and how many are reported – to see if sexual objectification could have removed the female voice to the point of silencing them completely.

Finally discuss if the situation can be resolved and potentially how this could be done.

Philosophers:

Catherine MacKinnon,
“Pornography makes women into objects … Objects do not speak.”

Jean Baudrillard,
“In the ‘eroticized’ body, it is the social function of exchange which predominates.”

Simone de Beauvoir,
“The division of the sexes is a biological fact, not an event in human history.”

Immanuel Kant,
“The human being… exists as an end in itself, not merely as a means to be used by this or that will”

Thomas Hobbes,
“The Desires, and other Passions of man, are in themselves no Sin.”

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

I Shop Therefore I am

KEY THINKERS
– Joseph Heath
– Tim Kasser
– Charles Taylor
– Jean Baudrillard

“Consumer society sold us dissatisfaction, then sold us the cure” (Lawson, 2009).

“This massive squirrel-wheel cannot but generate a certain amount of stress, not to mention incredible amounts of waste”

With both nutrition and materialism, Kasser states that “they are full for only a short time, as the promise is false and the satisfaction is empty”.

The level of consumption in Britain is so extraordinarily high that if the entire human race had the same levels we would need 3.1 planets to cope with the demand for resources (Lawson, 2009, p.98).

Researchers have found that on average we see around 3,500 advertisements a day. That is a shocking 1, 277, 500 a year.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

The Double

This project aims to argue that the doppelganger in cinema represents a fear in society. The project will aim to chart the change in this fear. Deleuze’s work offers a psychoanalytical perspective on this whereas Giddens and Beck look at modernity more generally. Science fiction cinema is a cinematic cousin of the double film and works in a similarly reflexive manner. As film projection is digitized so is our society, meaning that we both rely on and resent technology. So is the prevalence of double films in 2014 related to our increasingly strong links to machines?

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Mindfulness: a Philosophical Perspective

Mindfulness has been described by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn as a particular way of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally.Three assumptions the theory of mindfulness makes, which I aim to philosophically investigate, are:
1)As humans we have access to a direct primary experience free from conceptual thought, which constitutes secondary experience.
2)As humans we have the capacity to be impartial to our thoughts and bodily experiences, observing them from a vantage point rather than ‘becoming’ them.
3)As humans, we have the capacity to hold plural aspects of our experience in our attention simultaneously.

The Reflection Thesis
In this model, self-awareness is the consequence of a second-order consciousness taking a discrete, first-order conscious experience as its intentional object.

The Reflexivity Thesis
In The Reflexivity Thesis conscious states concurrently reveal both the object of consciousness, and the awareness of oneself as a subject in the conscious state itself. According to this model therefore, any occurrence of consciousness involves the sense of ownership over the state, that there is a phenomenality of what it is like for the subject to have that experience.

Higher-order theories
Higher-order (HO) theories propose the notion of a “conscious mental state in terms of meta-mental self-awareness.” (Van Gulick.) For these theories what makes a mental state conscious is the fact that it is accompanied by a simultaneous and non-inferential higher-order state whose content is that one is now experiencing M.

1) Higher order perception (HOP) Theory
Inner sense theory
The most popular version of higher-order perception theory- the inner sense theory- holds that humans have additional inner senses and sense organs, with the duty of scanning the outputs of the first-order senses to produce equally fine-grained, but higher-order, representations. This model takes basic self-awareness to be a form of inner perception, which involves two separate acts of awareness; a first-order intentional mental state directed externally, and an inner-directed higher-order awareness targeted at this first-order mental state.

2) Higher order thought (HOT) theory
I will now investigate the second type of Higher Order theory, which holds that our self awareness is in the form of a thought rather than a perception.

Actualist:
Actualist HOT theory concerns the nature of state-consciousness. Its main proponent has been David Rosenthal whose proposal is that a conscious mental state M, of mine, is a state that is actually causing an activated belief (generally a non-conscious one) that I have M. A phenomenally conscious mental state is a state with non-conceptual intentional content, which is the object of a higher-order thought.

Dispositionalist
On the Dispositionalist interpretation if a subject is aware of an object, then necessarily, it is possible that she is aware of being aware of that object. According to all forms of dispositionalist higher-order thought theory, the consciousness of a perceptual state consists in its availability to higher-order thought: a conscious mental event M, of mine, is one that is disposed to cause a belief (generally a non-conscious one) that I have M, and to cause it non-inferentially.

Mindfulness has been described by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn as a particular way of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally.

Three assumptions the theory of mindfulness makes, which I aim to philosophically investigate, are:
1)As humans we have access to a direct primary experience free from conceptual thought, which constitutes secondary experience.
2)As humans we have the capacity to be impartial to our thoughts and bodily experiences, observing them from a vantage point rather than ‘becoming’ them.
3)As humans, we have the capacity to hold plural aspects of our experience in our attention simultaneously.

The Reflection Thesis
In this model, self-awareness is the consequence of a second-order consciousness taking a discrete, first-order conscious experience as its intentional object.

The Reflexivity Thesis
In The Reflexivity Thesis conscious states concurrently reveal both the object of consciousness, and the awareness of oneself as a subject in the conscious state itself. According to this model therefore, any occurrence of consciousness involves the sense of ownership over the state, that there is a phenomenality of what it is like for the subject to have that experience.

Higher-order theories
Higher-order (HO) theories propose the notion of a “conscious mental state in terms of meta-mental self-awareness.” (Van Gulick.) For these theories what makes a mental state conscious is the fact that it is accompanied by a simultaneous and non-inferential higher-order state whose content is that one is now experiencing M.

1) Higher order perception (HOP) Theory
Inner sense theory
The most popular version of higher-order perception theory- the inner sense theory- holds that humans have additional inner senses and sense organs, with the duty of scanning the outputs of the first-order senses to produce equally fine-grained, but higher-order, representations. This model takes basic self-awareness to be a form of inner perception, which involves two separate acts of awareness; a first-order intentional mental state directed externally, and an inner-directed higher-order awareness targeted at this first-order mental state.

2) Higher order thought (HOT) theory
I will now investigate the second type of Higher Order theory, which holds that our self awareness is in the form of a thought rather than a perception.

Actualist:
Actualist HOT theory concerns the nature of state-consciousness. Its main proponent has been David Rosenthal whose proposal is that a conscious mental state M, of mine, is a state that is actually causing an activated belief (generally a non-conscious one) that I have M. A phenomenally conscious mental state is a state with non-conceptual intentional content, which is the object of a higher-order thought.

Dispositionalist
On the Dispositionalist interpretation if a subject is aware of an object, then necessarily, it is possible that she is aware of being aware of that object. According to all forms of dispositionalist higher-order thought theory, the consciousness of a perceptual state consists in its availability to higher-order thought: a conscious mental event M, of mine, is one that is disposed to cause a belief (generally a non-conscious one) that I have M, and to cause it non-inferentially.

Mindfulness has been described by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn as a particular way of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally.

Three assumptions the theory of mindfulness makes, which I aim to philosophically investigate, are:
1)As humans we have access to a direct primary experience free from conceptual thought, which constitutes secondary experience.
2)As humans we have the capacity to be impartial to our thoughts and bodily experiences, observing them from a vantage point rather than ‘becoming’ them.
3)As humans, we have the capacity to hold plural aspects of our experience in our attention simultaneously.

The Reflection Thesis
In this model, self-awareness is the consequence of a second-order consciousness taking a discrete, first-order conscious experience as its intentional object.

The Reflexivity Thesis
In The Reflexivity Thesis conscious states concurrently reveal both the object of consciousness, and the awareness of oneself as a subject in the conscious state itself. According to this model therefore, any occurrence of consciousness involves the sense of ownership over the state, that there is a phenomenality of what it is like for the subject to have that experience.

Higher-order theories
Higher-order (HO) theories propose the notion of a “conscious mental state in terms of meta-mental self-awareness.” (Van Gulick.) For these theories what makes a mental state conscious is the fact that it is accompanied by a simultaneous and non-inferential higher-order state whose content is that one is now experiencing M.

1) Higher order perception (HOP) Theory
Inner sense theory
The most popular version of higher-order perception theory- the inner sense theory- holds that humans have additional inner senses and sense organs, with the duty of scanning the outputs of the first-order senses to produce equally fine-grained, but higher-order, representations. This model takes basic self-awareness to be a form of inner perception, which involves two separate acts of awareness; a first-order intentional mental state directed externally, and an inner-directed higher-order awareness targeted at this first-order mental state.

2) Higher order thought (HOT) theory
I will now investigate the second type of Higher Order theory, which holds that our self awareness is in the form of a thought rather than a perception.

Actualist:
Actualist HOT theory concerns the nature of state-consciousness. Its main proponent has been David Rosenthal whose proposal is that a conscious mental state M, of mine, is a state that is actually causing an activated belief (generally a non-conscious one) that I have M. A phenomenally conscious mental state is a state with non-conceptual intentional content, which is the object of a higher-order thought.

Dispositionalist
On the Dispositionalist interpretation if a subject is aware of an object, then necessarily, it is possible that she is aware of being aware of that object. According to all forms of dispositionalist higher-order thought theory, the consciousness of a perceptual state consists in its availability to higher-order thought: a conscious mental event M, of mine, is one that is disposed to cause a belief (generally a non-conscious one) that I have M, and to cause it non-inferentially.

Categories
2014 Abstracts Stage 2

The Hubris of Medicalization

A considered look into the social transition from ‘madness’ to ‘mental illness’ and the possible connotations of our choice to embrace such medicalization within the Western World, inspired by a reading of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir Girl, Interrupted.

Concepts: Foucault Madness and Civilisation, Szasz The Myth of Mental Illness, Potter The Authenticity Hoax, Davies Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good, Kaysen Girl, Interrupted.

Aspects considered: Within this project I intend to discuss and analyse the value of medicalization, and will thus discuss how it came to power and why we choose to maintain it. Through Foucault I will challenge the concept that we have always been ‘mentally ill’ rather than mad, wise or even Dionysian.

In discussing this topic further I will touch on the technological era’s impact on medicalization, and thus the glamorisation of ‘mental illness’ within YouTube and Facebook culture. I will also aim to discuss and challenge the pharmaceutical nature of ‘therapy’ which is so widely experienced and commonly accepted.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

The Phenomenology of Mental Disorder: the Subjective Experience of Scizophrenia

Phenomenology urges closer scrutiny of our experiences. A phenomenological approach to mental disorder concerns an acute study the patient’s experience; its conditions and its structure. My objective is to gain insight into the refined and perplexed experiences of the Schizophrenic mind. Philosophy has traditionally been concerned with issues of subjectivity and the first-person. In order to facilitate a dialogue between philosophy and psychopathology I will be referencing specialists in the field such as Dan Zahavi, Karl Jaspers and Christopher Frith.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Morality and Suicide. Is suicide every morally permissible?

For centuries philosophers have attempted to understand the moral issues surrounding suicide and discover whether there is any objective standard by which we can truly know whether the act of suicide is a violation of our moral duties.
“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says, “and that is suicide.

Aquinas, Kant and Hume all offer interesting arguments surrounding this moral issue. Whilst Aquinas looks at suicide from a purely theological perspective, Hume saw traditional attitudes toward suicide as muddled and superstitious; paving the way for a very modern outlook that suggests there is no rational basis for this and we can never object to suicide. Kant in contrast places significant emphasis on suicide as a violation of our personal autonomy and freedom.

Does suicide violate our duties towards God?
As reason gradually became predominant in moral discourse after the 18th Century, suicide was soon to be seen as less sinful and more rational.

Does suicide violate our duties towards society?
Whilst the law and popular practice in the middles ages sanctioned the confiscation of individual property and the denial of a Christian burial, we now regard it as a highly personal matter, rather than disturbing public order.

Does suicide violate our natural duties of self-preservation?
It is argued from a theological and a secular perspective that we have a duty to ourselves not to commit suicide as it violates our human freedom and autonomy. However we must understand that in many cases our emotions come before reason.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Existential Authenticity: A Look at Authenticity in the Life and Work of Nick Drake

Despite Drake’s lack of commercial success during his lifetime, he produced music that today is recognised as some of the most influential in its genre.

By providing a look at his life, work and personality, I will try to show that Drake demonstrates qualities of Sartrean authenticity.

The essay will consist of a struggle in which I try to identify ‘positive’ characteristics of authenticity, e.g. “originality”, “disregard for external pressure” etc.

I will go on to adapt an existential approach in order to define authenticity “negatively”, or what authenticity is not.

I will try to pin down what exactly we mean when we say, “this music is authentic” by taking a closer look at Drake’s musical technique. I will contrast his music, which is eloquent and understated, with music that one might consider manufactured or “inauthentic”, such as the Spice Girls’ discography.

It will be shown that, through the enigma of Drake’s lyrics, musical compositions and personality, that existentialism shaped his perspective and possibly lead to his untimely death.

I will conclude, with help from Peterson’s “Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity”, that ‘authenticity’ is illusory; the Spice Girls and Nick Drake have the same authentic value because authenticity is not objective, rather it is a “socially agreed-upon construct”.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Life Goals: a Look at Philosophical Influences with a Special Interest in Nietzsche’s and Kierkegaard’s Thought

Concept: the concept I decided to explore within this project is that of life goals. I chose to look into this area as it is a notion that affects all of us within our modern day lives. It is an interesting concept as it is extremely dynamic in nature, however within the project I look closely at the idea of wealth in regards to life goals and how this contrasts with philosophical thought.

Territories: the main two philosophers I used for my territories were Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. I chose them because each offer a lot of work and thought indicating on how they believe one should shape their life. Nietzsche is very interested in educating man that he must overcome himself and religion in order to reach his full potential. I have explored the idea that man needs to overthrow his dependency on money in the same way that Nietzsche declared that man needed to overthrow relying on God and religion. The main aspect of Kierkegaard’s work that I used was that of the three spheres of existence to which I applied in how each sphere would shape our life goals.

Research methods: I used a range of research methods within this project in the aim of producing an interesting and in depth project. These range from the use of surveys, internet sources, books and my own personal thought.

Examples of questions I explore within this project: Why should one really want to leave the aesthetic sphere as it arguably is the sphere of existence which provides most pleasure. Is an aim into entering the religious sphere really applicable in our ever growing society. Is man capable of overcoming oneself? How should people choose to shape their lives?

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Stanley Kubrick: Rapture and the Ubermensch

2001: A Space Odyssey is a film many find hard to properly understand. I aim to present an account of 2001 that enables easier comprehension of this cinematic feature through philosophical themes.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick exhibits on rapture and the Ubermensch. I will, in my project, present how Kubrick uses colour, sound and cinematography to evoke feelings of rapture.

Focusing on the character Dave Bowman, I reveal how rapture and the overcoming of computers enable humans to delve into the next stage of Ubermensch.

The project contains breakdowns of the most important scenes of the film in relation to the works of Nietzsche. Including mans overcoming of computers, and the transcendence of humanity.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Kant the Interpretation of Andrei Tarkovsky

Objectives: To investigate the degree to which the law is both economically and ethically constituted – To compare and contrast Ancient Mesopotamian law with our own.
Territory: Modern EU law – The Code of Hammurabi (1754 BC) – Ancient Babylon – The Code of Ur-Nammu (2100 BC) – Ancient Sumer ‘ The German Ideology ’ – Marx ‘ Elements of the Philosophy of Right ’ – Hegel

Structure: I will begin by first describing both the Code of Hammurabi and the Code of UrNammu, subsequently contrasting them with Modern law. After this, Marx will be used to argue that the law is economically routed, whilst Hegel to state that it is ethical and has progressed over time. Finally there will be an analysis of the changes made in modern day law, to exhibit the shift away from the financial ‘burdens’ of ethics, in the era of late Capitalism.

“Political Economy regards the proletarian … like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being.” – Karl Marx, 1844

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

What is Technology?

I wish to claim that technology is not what man uses to master nature, but a philosophy of  history ­ a way of looking at the world or a way of life.      

The aim of my project was to trace the history of technology in order to establish a definition of its essence that is  consistent across time.  

Heidegger argued that technology is a means of exploiting nature, reducing it to “standing reserve” which we can draw upon as we desire it. Further, he argued that modern technology reduces man to standing reserve and that we  should be sceptical of it.  

In response to his argument I explored the thought of Marcuse and Feenberg who both suggest that technology is defined more by its social elements than by its function.  

Finally, I explored the future of technology, specifically artificial intelligence, and considered which, if any, definition of the essence of technology I explored remains applicable.     

Main Sources: 
The Questioning Concerning Technology by  Heidegger, One­ Dimensional Man by Marcuse, and Questioning  Technology by Feenberg. 

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Personhood. Persons, bodies and: exploring the relationships between historical concepts of personhood and prescriptions in medical ethics.

My objective in this essay is two part. Firstly I aim to produce a well-rounded account of the differing approaches to defining personhood, assess their shortcomings and highlight the relationship between personhood and rights. The second part of the essay will be an application of this notion of personhood and the subsequent theory of rights to the sphere of medical ethics, using abortion to demonstrate the important role the notion of personhood plays in medical ethical issues as well as highlighting its limitations.

FIRST I will establish the context of personhood by assessing first the Religious approaches to personhood. Next the Philosophical approach, using the philosophies of Aquinas, Descartes and Locke on personhood. And last the approach of science. All will be viewed in the context of history and how definitions change across history and across culture.

Secondly I will emphasise the undeniable link between concepts of Personhood and the effects it has on human rights. And use Peter Singer to demonstrate issues with a hierarchy of rights.

Lastly I will apply notions of personhood, and the subsequent theory of rights, to the abortion debate in order to demonstrate the impact of personhood in medical ethics. I will then use the works of Judith Thompson and discussions on social influences to highlight the extent of the role that personhood actually plays in medical ethical issues.