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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Drill Music Hoping for the Future. An exploration of the notion of hope through the subgenre of drill.

In this extended essay, I will explore the subgenre of drill music and how it can possibly be used for the disadvantaged youth to engage with the notion of hope in order to escape their condition. Firstly, I will explore the subgenre of drill music. Looking closely at its history as well as the controversy that surrounds its lyrical content and depictions using the works of Jonathan Ilan and Tricia Rose. Highlighting ‘the street illiterate’ readings as well as the continual scapegoating and alienation of an already marginalised group by both the state and their peers . Then, I will look into the notion of hope with aid from the philosophers Bloch and Marcel, making the link between music, creativity and the utopian dimension and the darker side of positive emotions when living in fear. Finally, I will look at the drill artist Abra Cadabra and his album “Product of My Environment”, this album exemplifies how hope can be encouraged through drill and how the engagement with the notion of hope can free oneself from their unfortunate condition of poverty and oppression.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Can the Sustainable be Beautiful?

This project engages with different philosophers and materials in exploring the concept of beauty within sustainable architecture. It seeks to further the inquiry into sustainability to include aesthetics and beauty in order to suggest a new way of living to make sure of the continued prospering of a community. It will argue that a sense of place and care is important in fostering a sustainable environment and that beauty plays a crucial role in this. This is particularly relevant as the concept of sustainability is in the news and, in the planning agenda. If we continue to neglect the research of beauty within sustainable architecture, it is possible we may slowly eradicate beauty in the future. Thus the purpose of this research is to end the divide between the sustainable and the beautiful. The first section will explore the different accounts of beauty, exploring subjective versus objective paradigms. The second section will explore the role of modern architecture in the decline of beauty within architecture in favour of sustainability through case studies of certain modern buildings. Further, it will examine the concept of dwelling and the art of making place through Heidegger and Christian Norberg-Schulz in explaining why modern architecture is failing.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Authenticity in the Music Industry: A Sartrean Case Study of Taylor Swift

My project explores the question of authentic existence as part of the music industry. I have chosen to examine the figure of Taylor Swift under the lens of Sartrean existentialism. I will situate Swift’s existence within a framework of Sartre’s existential thought which regards the meaning of the human condition as that which lies in its freedoms. Examining Swift’s own productions, such as her lyrics and her documentaries, will allow me to assess the extent to which she can be said to live authentically through the Sartrean belief that we create our own existence. The nature of the music industry can be thought of as paradoxical – the creativity of music in opposition to the regulations of industry. However, my project will demonstrate how this reflects Sartre’s own understanding of the human condition as existing in a state of nothingness between its facticity and its transcendence. By establishing my understanding of Sartre’s existentialism, through the three principles of being, the Other and bad faith I will be able to apply the figure of Taylor Swift to assess to what extent one can live an authentic existence as part of the music industry.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Fractured Unions: The Historicization of the Trade Union Movement and the Fight to Incite the Tolerant

The fragmentation of the modern workforce means that trade unions now face the challenge of making themselves appear both relevant and useful to people’s working lives. Increasingly precarious and service based jobs mean that people no longer identify with their work as strongly as they once did, and increasingly isolated jobs make it hard to connect with other workers both mentally and physically.

Industrial action is only possible through mass organisation and, the aged concept of what the unions represent, who and what they are fighting for is an increasing problem for the unions and the people they claim to defend. Engaging workers in their defensive aims against unfair working practices and low wages whilst funding this action through membership maintenance is a constant battle for the Trade unions.

This project seeks to address the issue of inciting action amongst an increasingly tolerant workforce resigned to mistreatment as a standard, due to the problems of late stage capitalism. It will make use of Gramsci’s Marxism in exploring the historicization of the trade union movement, and to provide a springboard for potential actions which could reinstate the trade unions into every workers mind as their first line of defence for fair and fulfilling working practices.

The stage of the modern workforce will be set by Virno’s postmodern neomarxist thought, in describing the fragmentary nature of our industries and working identities. To fight for a cause, a person must first identify with it, and be given sufficient evidence that the fight is worth their increasingly diminished time and effort.

The current wave of strike action along with the governments minimum service levels bill has brought the trade unions back into the national consciousness providing an opportune period to reinstate themselves in workers minds as the defensive institutions they claim to be. The minimum service levels bill will be used as an object to orientate the discussion, in its blatant attack on the right to strike for all of the UK workforce while using the fragmented nature of work to its advantage.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Reconceptualising Pathological Demand Avoidance as a neurodivergent phenomena using the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

Reconceptualising Pathological Demand Avoidance as a neurodivergent phenomena using the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

SCREW MEN? A CRITICAL STUDY INTO THE OVERTURNING OF ROE V. WADE AND THE RESULTING EFFECT IT HAS HAD ON AMERICAN FEMINIST ACTION

On the 22nd of January, 1973, the United States Supreme Court passed a landmark ruling in the form of Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade has correctly been characterised as a fundamental decision, particularly in regards to the ‘right to privacy’ and, on a larger scale, women’s rights as a whole. Brought to the Supreme Court by Norma McCorvery (‘Jane Roe’) and her lawyers in protest against Texas’ abortion laws, Roe v. Wade argued that the current Texan abortion laws were unconstitutional; Texan law, at that time, stated that all abortion was illegal with an exception for actions deemed necessary to save a potential mother’s life. Described by legal journalists such as Linda Greenhouse as a form of judicial activism, the 1973 ruling resulted in not only a new configuration for abortion in the States’ legal field but within its social and political spheres, too. Post Roe v. Wade, these laws alongside many others throughout the country were struck down and replaced with newer and more progressive federal rulings; the ruling given in the 2022 court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation was a complete systematic undoing of this earlier progression towards women’s rights. The decision overturned Roe v. Wade and began a political and cultural deconstruction of respect for women and their autonomy within the United States, upon which many women have begun opting out of heterosexual relationships as a form of self-preservation. This project will seek to examine the effects of overturning such a monumental legal decision, particularly in its applications within the modern feminist movement and the more radical forms of feminism that preceded it. Have the reactions of women in the face of this supposed ‘backwards’ ruling been justified? Is the decision to withdraw compliance and activity within heterosexual relationships personal, political, or a form of more active protest? Drawing on a range of feminist viewpoints and historically relevant events, this project will use the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade as a basis for its examination of female reaction and, more ultimately, its examination of women’s duty to heterosexuality.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

If there is a necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then whose duty is it?

In this project, I will assess the extent of the necessity to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on a practical level. Our duty is our moral or legal responsibility to do something. In this case, our duty is to reduce the emissions of GHGs that are contributing to the global warming effect. This effect is causing climate change, which has negative global impacts. I will provide philosophical claims from a number of philosophers namely Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. I will also offer my own insights in conjunction with this.

The object I will be discussing is the reduction of GHG emissions. I will consider this from a wide perspective from international and national authorities to businesses as well as on an individual level. My territory is questioning the extent and type of duty that these different groups have in order to combat the impacts of increasing GHG emissions. I hope this project will provide a unique angle for philosophically assessing how the approach to sustainability and climate change prevention varies on a wide scope. There is an expanding need for lawful duty to reduce GHGs due to ongoing inaction, although this is difficult to implement internationally without being vague due to the varying social and economic conditions of countries across the globe. I will conclude that we have a collective moral duty to reduce our GHG emissions.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Does Fidelity in a Monogamous Relationship Limit an Individual’s Freedom?

This project aims to illuminate how monogamy creates a romantic ideal in which individuals involved rely on one partner to fulfil endless needs. In order to satisfy these demands, a partner has responsibilities such as; being the greatest lover, the best parent, the trusted confidant, the emotional companion and the intellectual equal. Such expectations from a partner facilitates a restriction on their freedom. Hence, this romantic ideal creates a paradox where we have never been more reliant on our partner’s loyalty but have also never been more prone to stray since we live in a time where we feel entitled to pursue our desire because this is the culture where we deserve to be happy and utilise our freedom to the fullest. An act of infidelity is rooted in a need for an emotional connection, freedom, autonomy and a wish to reclaim lost aspects of oneself. Whereas, in polyamorous relationships “lovers guard their own and their partner’s autonomy, which is understood as the freedom to feel differently tomorrow” (Grahle 2002, 24).

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

The Commandments of Satoshi: Establishing the Religiousity of Bitcoin

The brainchild of an anonymous entity shrouded in mystery; Bitcoin grew from being a revolutionary technological breakthrough to a radically transformative moment. The creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, envisioned a world where trust in banks or governments was no longer necessary. Instead, Bitcoin offered a glimpse of hope, an opportunity to unshackle the financial system from government mandate and towards a currency run by it’s holders. Bitcoin’s code and complimentary philosophy has reached every corner of the earth, inspiring tens of millions to unite in the belief that change is essential.

Both Bitcoin enthusiasts and skeptics have likened the movement to a religious phenomenon. This essay is explorative and aims to examine the core philosophy and beliefs of the individuals and communities within this movement by applying various interpretations of religion to the Bitcoin phenomenon. Firstly, an introduction to and exposition of Bitcoin will help to pinpoint reoccurring symbols, practices and feelings that will later be compared to the following theories of religion, in turn. To explore the impact the movement has had on individuals I will be applying William James’ conception of religion, which emphasizes subjective experience. Furthermore, Emile Durkheim’s theory of religion, which focuses on collective practices and shared beliefs will be utilized to assess the ideals and customs of the Bitcoin community. After these theories are outlined and utilized, the fourth part of this essay will summarize the philosophical significance of the beliefs and practices surrounding Bitcoin.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Subverting Expectation: Analysing, evaluating and applying Nietzsche’s concept of the as Übermensch as Challenge to Morality  

The question of how to live is an area of great contestation for humanity. Nietzsche, in disavowing morality of the Christian world, saw the higher kind of human, the Übermensch, as the only way to affirm ourselves, following the disbelief in God. Applying the concept of the Übermensch to other literary figures like Achebe’s Okonkwo and Camus’ Meursault, as well as looking at Han’s diagnosis of the contemporary times, I assess how well a guide Nietzsche’s Übermensch serves, both now and then.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Privacy Laws are required in order for society to flourish

Privacy is becoming an ever increasing point of discussion in the contemporary world as of the increasing use of social media and technological advances in such areas as data surveillance. This project looks to tackle the issues that arise with privacy by first looking at privacy and its link to personal autonomy and trust which is especially relevant to the modern state which has greater control over the private life of individuals such as in medical research and in legislation concerning life such as in the case of euthanasia. This project shows the value in which privacy has in maintaining the separation of the public and privacy sphere which are essential for society to flourish and allow for such things as personal relationships to be formed. This project looks at such thinkers as Jeremy Bentham,Plato,Aristotle and Kant to reach a conclusion to why privacy laws are required for society to flourish from a philosophical standpoint.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploring the opposing philosophies of Robert Nozick and John Rawls in the context of modern British politics

This essay delves into the fundamentally opposing philosophies of Robert Nozick and John Rawls, two profoundly influential political thinkers whos works have shaped contemporary political thought. By examing both Nozick’s libertarian perspective and Rawls’s liberal egalitarian position the essay aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of their opposing beliefs regarding justice and the role of the state in society. Furthermore, this essay contextualises the works of each philosopher through highlighting the ways in which Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair’s political ideologies reflect the works of Nozick and Rawls, respectively. Through comparing the ideologies of these politicians to the works of Nozick and Rawls the essay explore the practical implications of these contrasting viewpoints and their impacts on society, welfare, and public policies. Overall, this essay aims to provide a deeper appreciation of the complex relationship between philosophy and politcs.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Diversifying the Intellectual Philosophical Tradition: An Althusserian and hooksian analysis into the role of essay questions in University Education.

Education became commodified through the introduction of university fees in UK higher education. This commodification means that Newcastle University is implicitly entangled with the economic values of society. Under investigation within this project was the question of diversity in UK higher education institutions. The case study used to ground this investigation was data collected from core modules on Newcastle University’s Undergraduate Philosophy degree. The questions were categorised into five categories, ‘Understanding’, ‘Comparative’, ‘Contemporary/Applied’, ‘Diverse’, and ‘Other’. After analysing and evaluating this quantified data, Althusser’s concepts of reproduction and interpellation were analysed. This Althusserian framework provides an understanding of the role of essay questions in the reproduction of the current intellectual philosophical tradition. The Foucauldian notion of normalisation and historical examples were utilised to substantiate the claim. Whilst a good framework, Althusser’s theory is overwhelmingly unoptimistic. By engaging with bell hooks, the investigation was able to draw out some possible solutions. A framework for alteration was established based on hook’s focus on communication and work by Elbow. In an inverted hierarchical sense, change can start in the university institutions themselves. By implementing more inclusive attitudes in the academy, prejudice, and bias are deconstructed, this would lead to a critique and deconstruction of privilege and diversification of the philosophical intellectual tradition.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploring the Role of Masculinity in the 21st Century: Has the term ‘masculinity’ evolved too far and does the popularity of books such as Fight Club prove a yearning for the reinstatement of traditional masculine values?

It’s difficult to highlight an exact point in history at which the role of masculinity changed. In the 19th Century masculinity, along with being male as a gender, also connoted physical attributes such as strength, confidence, and the ability to provide for one’s own family. This was accompanied by the idea that, on an emotional level, they must appear emotionless and strong in times of fear and jeopardy.
During the early 19th Century, Great Britain participated in two world wars, in which it was expected that healthy male adults should join the army and protect their country against the threat of Nazi Germany. This, perfectly, epitomises the role of males in the period, as it exemplified the role of masculinity and protectors, as women and children were expected to stay at home and help the war effort in different ways, such as the manufacturing of weapons and artillery.
Whilst the refashioning of what the term ‘masculinity’ denoted was gradual, there were key historical points which helped redefine the term. Hence, following the war, however, in the 1960s and ’70s traditional gender roles were challenged following the influence of the feminist movement.
This thesis will look at the history of masculinity in Great Britain since the 19th Century; explore how it has changed following the rise of feminism; and how the role of books such as Fight Club (1997) and American Psycho (1991) have appealed to the modern man desiring for ‘old-fashioned’ masculine values to be reinstated in society.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

The Death of Death in Representation: A Heideggerian investigation into representations of death in mainstream media during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media found itself burdened with the responsibility of informing members of the public of the deaths occurring around the world and the immanent potential of their own deaths from this disease. Studies have shown that consumption of this media coverage is associated with negative mental impacts, such as increased levels of anxiety and depression (Niel et al., 2021). This, therefore, indicates an important topic of investigation and a key opportunity to investigate media representations of death. In this project, the effect of media representations of death on our self understanding will be investigated through the philosophical framework provided in Martin Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’. Through a close reading of this text and a historical account of the representation of death in UK mainstream media during the ‘lockdown period’ of 2020, it will be shown that even in this case, where death is represented as an immanent possibility of the reader, media representations cannot provide an understanding of death that will enable an authentic mode of ‘Being-towards-death’. This project will also provide an understanding of complex concepts found in ‘Being and Time’ through their application to recent world events.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Artificial Intelligence: Human, Non-Human, and Inhuman Minds

Artificial Intelligence is becoming an increasingly more common part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Whether necessary for our species’ survival or an existential threat, it is clear that this technology is forcing us to consider the questions behind it all: What is the mind? What is consciousness? Are we anthropomorphising inanimate matter, or are we neglecting a sentient being? This paper looks at contemporary discussions surrounding modern AI, such as the likes of LaMDA and Dall-E, and how deeply rooted they are in conversations surrounding philosophy and psychology from the last two centuries, specifically those of behaviourism vs. functionalism. As well as aspects of the conversation which have been overlooked by AI research, such as psychoanalytical approaches, this paper uncovers rhetoric seen from all sides of the conversation which in some cases betrays questionable world views.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

An Investigation Into The Relationship Between The Law Of Attraction And Philosophy

This essay will draw upon philosophical ideas to attempt to explain the origins of the Law of Attraction and identify its philosophical background despite its new age modernity. It is beyond the scope of this essay to verify the Law of Attractions ultimate existence; for the purposes of the research, it is only important to acknowledge the theory as a conceptual observation. Authenticity of the law is not under question here, but rather the social and philosophical foundations that it is built upon. The Law of Attraction is a universal law based on the principle that whatever is given out by thought or action is returned to the subject. As Bryne, a leader in popularising the doctrine contemporarily, suggests, “we create powerful emotions about what is in our minds..then the law of attraction returns the same to us” (Byrne, 2012, p.114). This law states that any personal desire can only be accomplished objectively and externally by concentration and positive thinking (Curtis, 2009, p.250).
Increasingly evident in its growth and positioning in the mainstream sphere, the implication of the law of attraction itself, is that as it is presented as a law, there are underlying sciences contributing to its establishment. By using applications of traditional schools of thought including Stoicism and Epistemology, I attempt to establish linkages instead between the logic behind the Law of Attraction and philosophical thought. The law of attraction is often validated by a combination of scientific and pseudoscientific theories, thus creating duality in its background

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Exploring the Evolution of Leadership: A Comparison of Homeric Poems and Royal Marines Commando Ethos Through Foucault

This essay explores the evolution of leadership through a comparison of Homeric poems and Royal Marines Commando Ethos. Applying Foucault’s theories, the analysis delves into the power dynamics, discipline, and techniques of governance employed in these two contexts. By examining the similarities and differences, the essay aims to reveal insights into how leadership has evolved over time and how it continues to shape our society today using Foucault’s analysis of language.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Dungeons & Dragons or Enlightenment and Play

This project socially critiques the tabletop fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. To this end, I engage with game studies to clarify notions of play and Joseph P. Laycock’s account of meaning production within D&D specifically. For these thinkers, play provides a space constitutively separated from and opposed to external life. This is an imaginative activity. Laycock highlights quasi-religious function of engaging in imagined worlds through a sacred order in D&D. I critique these accounts for their undeveloped social theory, which foreshortens their analysis, taking play or the religious sentiment as historically invariant rather than as social and historical products. As a background to this critique, I engage with the critical theory of Adorno and Horkheimer. For them, the self-defeat of the Enlightenment characterises the contemporary social world. The former failed to realise its promise of liberation and instead continued the domination it sought to overcome.
I go on to unfold the historical dialectic of D&D. From its inception, it has been a product of bourgeois society which serves its work process, despite its ostensible separation from external life. Play and narrative, in the form of the novel, both have utopian possibilities in turning against the world as it is; I contend that D&D regresses from these into an appendage of the work process which disappoints the existent possibilities of games and novels in truly opposing the ruling order. Rather than overcome magic, D&D mimics the magical practice of sacrifice in sacrificing the player’s own prohibited desires which would contradict the social process. Yet it does so in a form thoroughly characteristic of the Enlightenment; therefore, it can only be classed as regression.

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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Towards a New Understanding of Antiwork Politics

My project paper is a discussion of the theoretical framework of antiwork politics with a specific emphasis on antiwork’s conception of production and its relation to work. The object of the paper is the reddit forum group r/antiwork and the territory is work and production. I found antiwork’s theoretical framework through Kathi Weeks’ The Problem with Work. In this text, the concept of production as a central topic in the critique of work is discussed. From there, through an analysis of the Introduction to Marx’s Grundrisse, I established the traditional conceptualisation of production. Then, I looked at the problem of productivism, antiwork’s primary critical point, through Baudrillard’s critique in The Mirror of Production. Finally, I introduced Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of production, found in Anti-Oedipus, as an alternative way to conduct antiwork critique. This project was a chance for me to philosophically investigate an area of everyday life that is widely discussed but contains many inconspicuous elements.