2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Can agents be considered accountable for their actions when following the orders of an authoritative figure?

This project discusses the impact of authority on moral responsibility, and whether the autonomy and free will of an agent is required in order to enforce responsibility and punishment.

While Nietzsche sceptically denounced the genealogy of morality as an institution which instils guilt and punishment, he relented to admit that despite its insufferable origins, morality is nevertheless invaluable in understanding cultures and ideologies. The doctrines of John Martin Fischer conversely maintained the position that an agent must necessarily be morally responsible for the actions they committed, even under circumstances wherein the agent may feel as though their judgement was clouded by the coercive force of an authoritative figure, which made it seem as though the actions were not the agent’s own.

Nevertheless, it has been recognised in case studies spanning over the last 100 years, such as The Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, the 1963 Milgram Behavioural Study of Obedience and the 1971 Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment, that there is always an alternative possibility to the course of action taken by an agent, and that the action is always necessarily an agent’s own. In such case studies which discuss the impact of authority, other questions have been raised as to whether passivity in these examples is the true evil, or whether there lies within mankind an innate capacity for evil and sinister acts which inflict harm upon his fellow man.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Would it be Better if Human Beings did not Exist?

If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist?” Schopenhauer

“Being brought into existence is not a benefit but always a harm” Benatar

“Our self-removal from this planet would still be a magnificent move… What do we have to lose?” Ligotti

This project will investigate the claim that human existence is a value.

There tends to be a given assumption that human existence is a good thing. I intend to question the validity of this and investigate whether it has valid justification.

The effects of human existence will be considered from three perspectives to determine whether human existence is worth its costs.

An ethical perspective will be used to evaluate the suffering and harm evoked by and for human beings.

An environmental perspective will contemplate the impact human beings have had on the planet and the detrimental effects caused.

A positive perspective will be adopted to investigate whether human beings deserve respect. It will be questioned if something would be lost without us.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

A Post-Modern Pilgrimage: Can any type of travel be meaningful in the same way pilgrimage is?

Is there any way in which non-religious forms of travel can be as meaningful as religion? My project aims to investigate concepts such as pleasure, disappearance, purpose and perspectivism to form a discourse for how we can talk of a post-modern pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage is an important part of any religion. Those with religious beliefs seek to connect with other’s who are similar to oneself and God, to help reinforce their sense of self and their place in the universe.

Baudrillard believes disappearance is symbolic as well as physical. The absence from our normal life is crucial for personal development, as our mind needs a break to recuperate.

Sartre believes ‘existence precedes essence,’ meaning that we are not born with a purpose. Instead, we are to decide our own purpose and our own meaning for life. This can be found through travelling. We move away from the everyday life and the familiarity and we experience new objects and many unfamiliar and difficult challenges, we learn more about ourselves and so we reflect on our own meaning of life.

Mill discusses the quality of pleasures in his views of utilitarianism. The highest pleasures are the most valuable, those which exercise the mind.
When travelling, we may feel curious to learn more about the country we are in. Gaining knowledge of the world through experiencing this country’s culture directly, satisfies the human mind, as the understanding of the world can shape our ideas of the world.

All three philosophers can apply to De Botton’s views on perspectivism, which is that we begin to look at the world in a different way, by focusing and appreciating the small things. This brings in all concepts of pleasure, absence and purpose, which is demonstrated throughout this project.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Does Technology Merely Distort or Substantially Change Law and Justice?

Does Technology Merely Distort or Substantially Change Law and Justice?

The Media:

Common-held belief was that – because of Simpson’s celebrity- he would not be prosecuted.
Despite the incriminating evidence against him, the public supported Simpson. As noted by Bugliosi, there were “people carrying sings outside the courtroom during the trial declaring “Free OJ” and “Save the Juice”

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Technological advancements have made it considerably more comfortable for us to watch someone “slip away”

The Death Penalty:
At this present- day, advancements in the pharmaceutical industry ensure that ‘the shelf life of benzodiazepine’ also plays a role in this process.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

An Exploration of Female Sexuality

Let’s talk about sex. Does it make you uncomfortable? In this project, I explore the progression of attitudes towards sexuality through the different generations, where these attitudes came from, and how these attitudes developed.

Through George Bataille’s book, Eroticism: Death and Sensuality, I explore where the taboo of sex may have begun and what impact this had upon attitudes towards embracing female sexuality. I also use Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Philosophy of Right to discuss the issues surrounding freedom of sexuality.

Through conducting my own research and analysing various books, articles and journals, I will reveal how our society is embracing the conversation surrounding sexuality.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Japan: A suicide nation? A philosophical investigation into the history of Japan’s high suicide rate.

This project seeks to investigate the global, social and cross-cultural phenomenon of suicide (territory). More specifically, suicide in Japan (object). The purpose of this project is to highlight and examine the possible factors as to why the average global suicide rate within the Japanese nation is so high – it is nearly twice the global average. Through exploring the History of Japan I ask the questions: ‘What is it about the Japanese culture/ society that has caused Japan to become synonymous with the act of suicide?’ And ‘Is Japan really a suicide nation?’

Areas to be explored:
Premodern Japan: The way of the Samurai and The Kamikaze Pilots.
Geographical ‘hot spots’
Suicide prevention in Japan
Japanese Psychiatry

Philosophically and ethically suicide poses difficult questions. Albert Camus states: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide”.

Through exploring the interesting philosophical arguments put forward by Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer the following questions in regards to suicide arise:

Does suicide violate our natural duty of self-preservation?

Does suicide achieve what it ultimately aims for (i.e. to end all suffering), or does it simply terminate superficial elements of ourselves thus achieving the opposite: affirmation of the will?

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Melissa Walker’s Masks: The History of Soldier’s PTSD and its Societal Depiction

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is associated with impairments in everyday attention and memory
PTSD is associated with enhanced acquisition of conditioned fears
(S. Taylor, 2017, p. 45)

Panic disorder, and alcohol and substance abuse frequently emerge in conjunction with PTSD and that is not isolated to treatment-seeking populations
(Wilson Friedman & Lindy, 2004, p. 237)

Priory Survey of 1,000 men:
77% said that they suffered from anxiety, stress or depression
40% said that they would only seek help if it got as bad as thoughts of suicide
(Priory Group, Survey: 2004)

I don’t think we are doing enough for our veterans. Their care should be a government priority, and it should not be left to charities like Help For Heroes to subsidise the cost.
(Gregg, 2015)

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

An Attempt at Altruism? An Evaluation of Consumer Boycott’s Motivations and Outcomes.

This project aims to evaluate whether consumer boycotts are truly altruistic or an egoistic attempt to save reputations and adhere to social pressure out of self-interest. Do consumers and corporations really care about the impact of their actions or just want to look like decent caring people?

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Shift Of Equality and Power for Men and Women, within the United Kingdom overtime.

The difference in equality and power between men and women.

Early 20th century to modern day.

Thomas Hobbes- Leviathan
Jeremy Bentham- Utilitarianism
Simone de Beauvoir – The Second Sex

The object of this project is to produce an accurate analysis and an understanding of the shift of equality and power for men and women in the UK, showing how the status of a woman and a man has changed overtime from the early 1900s to modern day. It will focus on Thomas Hobbes’ theory on power being the deepest drive, thus this will explore why men are deemed to have the most power in society. Jeremey Bentham’s theory on Utilitarianism gives the statement ‘The greatest good of the greatest number’ therefore this will focus on those who are in the majority do actions that are in their favour. Also a look at Simone De Beauvoir’s analysis on the ‘Second Sex’ will suggest how civilisation has constructed the woman. Consequently this project will offer possible reasons as to why the status between men and women have been so different overtime.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Kaliai Cargo Cults: Understanding Death and Western Influences in Papua New Guinea.

“O Father Consel, you are sorry for us. You can help us. We have nothing – no aircraft, no ships, no jeeps, nothing at all. The Europeans steal it from us. You will be sorry for us and send us something” – cargo cult prayer.

Jarvie, I.C. (1964). The Revolution in Anthropology. New York, Routledge. (p64)

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Can We Own a Vibe? A Philosophical Inquiry into Our Understanding of Music Copyright.

This project aims to look at the concept of private property within the context of copyright. I will investigate current copyright law in the case of music and examples of copyright infringement. Through these cases, I will question the grounds on which they have been ruled guilty of copyright infringement. With Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ (2013) being ruled as infringing the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up’ (1977) due to copying the vibe of this song. With the idea of a vibe having not been previously protected by copyright, this challenges our previous understanding of the copyright of music and what it means to own musical property.

I will also discuss the implications copyright has upon the possibility of creativity within the music industry. Copyright law is in place to protect the original creative works of an individual and therefore protecting creativity as a whole. Through questioning whether copyright helps of hinders creativity in music, I will discuss whether copyright does protect creativity as it sets out to do so.

My project aims to question how appropriate the concepts grounding our copyright of music are and call into question whether we need to revise our music copyright system.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

The Right to Privacy: A philosophical investigation in to the notion of a right to privacy in contemporary society; looking at the ways in which this right is upheld/struck down

“To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world”

Anthony Burgess

We live in a society today in which privacy concerns seem to be cropping up more and more frequently. This essay basis its’ notion of a right to privacy on Warren and Brandeis’s article for the Harvard Law Review titled The Right to Privacy, and investigates the ways in which the culture today strikes down this right.

My essay focuses on the primary ways in which the notion of privacy has been struck down in the post 9/11 society that we live in. In doing this, I was able to use the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and John Rawls, among many other philosophers, to formulate a response to this abolition of privacy in the society we live in. Their philosophies provide us with a thoughtful response to the factors affecting our right to privacy, and henceforth allows for a thorough investigation into the notion of privacy from a perspective not entirely common.

‘Perhaps the most striking thing about the right to privacy is that nobody seems to have any very clear idea what it is.’
– Judith Jarvis Thomson

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the Queen, as portrayed and understood by the Netflix production ‘The Crown’, truly treated as an Other?

The Queen is not truly recognised by us for the work she does, but by the title she holds. Do we treat her as we should treat another human being, or do we treat her as if she is just her title?

The philosophy of Sartre and Levinas will be used as they both put forward a theory of the Other. We have an effect on the others freedom for both philosophers.

For Levinas, it is getting away from Heidegger’s view that we encounter everything with its use value. We have a relationship and a responsibility over the Other.

For Sartre, is the Queen acting in Bad Faith? Rather than recognising herself beyond her duty.

So, does the Queen restrict herself from becoming an Other, or do we restrict the Queen from being treated as an Other truly should be?

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

BDSM, Power and Self-mastery: the strength of submission

Does power equate to dominance? Is there a strength in submission?

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Money: A Social Network Ontology, Complimented by the Abstraction of Theoretical Monetary Units Throughout Time.

This project argues for Georg Simmel’s Sociological account of money through two means:

Firstly, its ability to explain changes in monetary theory through time.
Secondly, the fact it can explain a nuanced human economic agent in a social network.

Money in a Simmelite Social Network:

My project explored the account of the human subject in Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money and applied this to the network theory from Dodd’s The Sociology of Money. Thus, the essay was able to create and analyse a framework that could both argue for the creation of money through a tool of desiring subjects, and how this interacts with society at large through a societal network.

Changing Monetary Theory Through Time:
This project explores the history of economic philosophy from the enlightenment onwards through four defined periods.

Smith and Classical Economics – Using An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations I was able to explore monetary theory that is reliant upon substance, and the ways Smith’s economic theory often ends up with a reductionist view of human agency.

Friedman and Neo-Classical Economics – Using Capitalism and Freedom I explored monetary theory and the belief that money is simply an economic lubricant, while also contesting the fact that Friedman truly believes in the imperfect being.

Post-Modern Economics – Using Lazzarato, and his influences, I was able to analyse the idea that digitised economics represent power and the desire of the subjects in this network as the creation of this power.

Bitcoin and the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute – This conception of money is a commodity guided by the rules of blockchain, however Bitcoin itself is only substantiated by ideological belief of a small number of active traders.

Throughout this project I argue that the Framework of the Simmelite Social Network can not only explain the beliefs of these four types of theory through time, but also why the path of history towards further abstraction has occurred.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

On Bunnies: An Interpretative Approach to Playboy in the Sphere of Art

The use of nude photography does not exclude a work from the sphere of art

Featured Articles

Rose: The Paradigm case of Pornography-Playboy does not possess the same explicit sexual characteristics of other ‘adult’ entertainment.
-In the production of Playboy, there is no violation of liberty or victim.

Noë: ‘strange tools’ -art is purely the subversion of function and purpose, that calls into question the surrounding presuppositions -Playboy does not have his same subversion intention.

Hegel- the closest instance to absolute truth within art is the human form “we must search out that in Nature which on its own merits
belongs to the essence and actuality of the mind…The human form is employed…exclusively as the existence and physical form correspond to themind” (Hegel, 2004)

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Rise of artificial intelligence and it’s implications for the constitution of personhood

My Territory: The territory of my essay is artificial intelligence; I will be looking at the progress it has made in the past decade, as well as the controversy it has sparked as a result.

My Object: My object is Sophia, a humanoid robot created in 2017 by Hanson Robotics Limited.

My Concepts: The main concepts I will be using in my project are: Human being, Personhood, Personal Identity, Persistence, Self-Ownership and Recognition

Philosophical Thinkers: The first philosopher I will be using to look at my territory is John Locke. I will be using his Essay on Human Understanding II, concentrating on his views on Personal identity. The second is Frederich Hegel; I will be looking at his Phenomenology of Spirit, particularly the sections on his theory of Recognition.

Main objective: I want to see if we would ever consider granting artificial intelligence the same rights as humans; to do so, I will be trying to find the necessary and sufficient conditions of personhood, and applying them.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

“Where Flash Becomes Word and Silents Selfloud”: the Language of Finnegans Wake

The obscure, polysemic, multi-lingual, syntactically nonstandard style of writing in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has polarised critics even since before the time of the book’s full release. The ongoing debates surrounding the work raise philosophical questions about the limits of language and the nature of art and literature. This essay explores possible philosophical justifications for using such a style, and enquires whether it might offer unique artistic possibilities, unavailable to clearer, more conventional styles.

Beginning from Heidegger’s theory of art, the essay explores the distinction between the Heideggerian concepts of “world” and “earth”, arguing that the book inverts the standard function of language as embodying a socio-historical “world”, instead turning it into a force which represents the “ungraspable”, impenetrable, nature of “earth”.

The essay then examines the Wake with reference to Blanchot’s work on literature, finding that the techniques of emphasising the physicality of language, as well as fragmenting a work into pieces whose only relation is difference – which Blanchot claims constitute are essential for a literary work to represent things in their “free, silent existence” – are utilised in extreme ways and to unique ends in the Wake.

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Can we resolve the conflict between Art and Science

My object is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and my territory is the relationship between art and science. In my project I argue that the arts (and humanities) come into conflict with science (and technology). Richard Dawkins laments that in his view science does not get the same respect as poetry. Meanwhile Midgley claims that science attempts to colonise humanities with inappropriate methods. Habermas claims that science has ‘infected’ politics, ethics and philosophy. Warbuton argues that the concepts used to evaluate scientific research are applied to the arts as well, but are not fit for this purpose.
Lyotard looks at one of the causes of this conflict. Narrative has been the main way of transmitting knowledge, and is still used in the arts. However, science condemns narrative as no knowledge at all, since narratives are only legitimated by their general acceptance. Science, on the other hand, requires legitimation by empirical evidence, and must be able to justify and defend its claims against challenges. However, science can only justify and defend its claims by using narrative, so could itself be accused of begging the question by using a form it has condemned as not susceptible to legitimation.

Heidegger argues that technology, by treating human beings as a reserve, poses a danger to our very essence. Pirsig proposes care as part of the solution. Heidegger sees care as constitutive of humans, inextricably linked with human life and temporality. Pirsig’s version of care is what provides the creativity and imagination which he demonstrates is needed by science to come up with new theories and hypotheses just as much as it is needed by the arts. If this is accepted then care, creativity and imagination could provide the basis for a bridge between the sciences and the arts.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

“Mrs. Dalloway. Not even Clarissa anymore; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.” Does Changing your Surname mean Forfeiting your Identity?

Object: ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf (1925)

Aim: To discuss the implications of marriage in feminist theory and attempt to decipher if loosing your surname means loosing your identity.

How: Use main themes from the novel, modern articles, De Beauvoir, Woolf and Butler, Friedan.

Methodology: Structured with quotations from the novel. Therefore methodology is interpretive.

What are the implications of taking your fiancés surname/ marriage and how does Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘Mrs Dalloway’ connect us to these issues?