2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Knowledge is Power. How the desire for self-education among the pitmen of the North East evokes both Kantian autonomy and Marxist emancipation

This Project is an exploration of the philosophical, ethical, and political motives to be found in the desire for and execution of self-education among the pitmen of the Great Northern Coalfield, particularly in the twentieth century.

The two main philosophical strands used were Kant’s notion of autonomy in the context of the universal moral law, and Kant’s depiction and encouragement of human emancipation.

The case study chosen was the Ashington Group of pitmen and labourers who rose to fame with their art from the 1930s onwards, but chose not to leave their occupations for the art world.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Can Rawls’ and Nozick’s Theories of Justice Be a Basis for the Distribution of University Acceptances?

 According to The Sutton Trust, independent school pupils are more than twice as likely as pupils in comprehensive schools to be accepted into one of the 30 most highly selective universities.
 Universities take into account academic ability, personal attributes, and social background when considering place offers.
 Their societal belief that these statistics are caused by arbitrary factors rather than merit is very apparent.

 Rawls’ theory of justice aims to promote equality within society
 Liberty Principle: Everyone should be entitled to the same basic liberties, chosen from under a veil of ignorance in the Original Position
 Fair Equality of Opportunity Principle: Everyone should be open to the same opportunities should they have the same ability and motivation
 Difference Principle: Inequality is just only if it benefits those who are worst-off in society, rather than further enhancing the lives of the already fortunate

 Entitlement theory: We are entitled to our holdings if we have acquired them through the principle of just acquisition, or have exchanged it with someone through the principle of justice in transfer
 We are entitled to our talents and abilities, regardless of whether they have come about through circumstantial luck and social background.
Rawls is incorrect to suggest that we are not entitled to something if it merely came about through chance, because ultimately everything can be attributed to luck.
 Inequalities are just if they come about through voluntary exchange, there should not be a limitation on freedom to satisfy the desire for equality
 Thus, leniencies should not be made towards those who are disadvantaged to maintain equality, and university places should be awarded to those with the greatest academic ability.

2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Social Luck versus Social Mobility. Is it OK to be Told the World isn’t Fair?

– Objective/Territory: The ‘American dream’: What is the ‘American dream’ and is it just a product or propaganda process of the capitalist society in which we live? 

– Sources: Karl Marx, Deleuze and Guattari, Charles Taylor and Adorno. 

– Project Outline: Leaving education and entering the ‘real world’ in a time where one’s ideals and ambitions are centred on seeking wealth; why is it that we think this way? I hold the belief that to succeed, it is about whom you know not necessarily what you know. So, I want to prove that wealth is down to social luck. My territory is society and culture and I am trying to show that our basic intuition (one gets what one deserves) is a herd mentality in order for a specific class to benefit. If we think everyone has what they deserve, then we don’t think that it could be redistributed.

Through a method of hermeneutics, I endeavour to seek why it is we think the way we do and why it is we desire wealth. E480

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The Class System: is it Evident at Newcastle University?

Do we still live in a society that is dominated by issues of class? • If so why do certain sectors of society refuse to discuss it and others believe that it no longer exists? • Why do we force social issues, in the desperate hope not to show a class divide? Aim: These were some of the questions I wanted to try and tackle this year. With the ever increasing topic of class being raised, I decided to question Newcastle students on their perspectives. Whether they felt that Universities were a key part of society’s social engineering, or whether they believed that there was a social divide at the University. Philosophers: Focusing on the work of Karl Marx and Theodor Adorno to illustrate the concept of capitalism, and whether we still live in a bourgeoisie and proletariat state.

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Media Immobilising Britain: Educational Aspiration

This project investigates social mobility in Britain within the last 20 years, and after finding Britain to be socially immobile looks into the role that education has within making Britain immobile. The education system is then evaluated to explore the possibility of education having a causative role in forming an immobile society. A common underlying factor in education’s role within an immobile society is a poor level of aspiration among the lower classes. I then look at the possible role British media has to play in forming poor levels of aspiration under the theories of the culture industry from Adorno and Horkheimer, and Vattimo’s ethics of provenance , which is transposed onto the issue of false consciousness and Marxist ideologies. This project uses government figures to show that Britain is immobile; that the education system plays a key role within immobility, and that media is responsible for breeding students with low levels of aspiration. This, when explored with Adorno and Horkheimer’s views on the culture industry, shows that mass media deceives its consumers in order to keep the bourgeois’ advantage over the lower classes and reinforce Britain’s immobility throughout the generations by depicting mobility as unlikely within the media. This is backed up by figures which show that class and the media consumed is closely linked so the elite few in charge of the majority of media consumed by the masses can install a false consciousness in which it promises mobility to the lower classes whilst never having an intention of delivering it.

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Class Differences of Social Deviance and its Links to Philosophy

Aim of project – form an enquiry into the idea of social deviance, focussing particularly on how it differs depending upon the social group and why it seems to be more prevalent in the working classes. I will look to give possible explanations of social deviance based upon the philosophical thought I am going to look at. • General idea of deviance – any act which goes against the social norms or laws of a particular society. • Common explanation found for the greater prevalence of deviance in lower working class groups – harder for the individuals in the lower classes to fulfil their potential in society. This leads to feelings of frustration, which can lead to social deviance • This links into the ideas of Marx, and his ideas on class struggle, and how the lower class, or proletariat are the powerless people in society, which leads to feelings of resentment and frustration and may lead to certain antisocial behaviours – this class struggle will ultimately lead to what would be considered deviance as he suggests that a social revolution will occur • Work done with Engels on the family – microcosm of larger society showing negative side of society • PHILOSOPHY – Sartre – ‘Red mist’ showing the connection between mans subconscious and violence and idea that man is completely free to be whatever he wants to be SO man is free to act in a totally socially deviant manner, however it is one’s own responsibility to act in this way • “Being and Nothingness” – conflict is central to all human relationships

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

The Narrative and Injustice of the Working Class in Britain

In this project I examine the working class in Britain and compare the conditions that they have to work in the time of Marx and now. My main objective here is to show that the working class exist as a class and a narrative, and to disprove Lyotard’s famous claim that we no longer through narratives. I intend also to show that capitalism is unfair and that it is not a system that the working classes can benefit from. I provide a solution and conclude that through Vattimo’s philosophy of pluralism, and Lyotard’s theory of language games, capitalism can be destabilised, which would therefore help the working class. Habermas is briefly explored with reference to his claim that ‘modernity is dominant but dead’. In this sense modernity can be compared to the values of the working classes today, as research shows their values to be dormant in the postmodern society. Research for this project involved concentrating on the ‘White Season’ this spring which the BBC2 produced. The ‘White Season’ aired programmes about the working class today, and how times have changed. There is also an array of class reports and books that I focus on as well, and to explore my territory of class conditions in Marx’s era, I looked at in depth The Conditions of the Working Class in England (1993) by Engels. To apply philosophical concepts to my project in order to prove influence, I looked at Vattimo’s The Transparent Society (1992), and Nihilism and Emancipation (2004), Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition (2005), and The Communist Manifesto (1973) by Marx and Engels, amongst others. I feel that my project is of wider importance because I am exploring the effects that the capitalist system has on the class system, and this is a factor that can affect everyone. On completion of this project, my knowledge of the working class and the philosophical concepts I applied to it is greater, and more accurate than before.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

How has the Indian Caste System Changed from its Origin to the Modern Day?

In 2005 I spent four months teaching in India and fell in love with this beautiful and dynamic country. I spent the majority of my time living in a village in northern India and what shocked me the most was how such a spiritual country could hold such beliefs on class discrimination. I also noticed how the caste system was not so prevalent in the cities and by talking to people I met I found out that the caste system had a deep and complicated history. Therefore I have found this study on the caste system fascinating because I have managed to apply my research to my own experience of India. I have started this project by looking at possible origins of the caste system and then looking at how strict and rigid the caste system was in early India. The main change that I have focused on in is after WW11 and when Gandhi, who was a spiritual and political leader of India, bought India to independence. In the heart of the project I have shown how Gandhi liberated the strict caste system and how this has affected modern India. Finally I have compared Gandhi’s teachings to the philosophy of Nietzsche and his work “On the Genealogy of Morals,” which demonstrates how he believes that a caste system should be apparent in all societies.