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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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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The identity of the Student during the COVID-19 pandemic

This project aims to investigate the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the development of the identities of university students, looking at the impact that the removal of social influences has had on identity formation during such a critical time of personal growth. Using the philosophies of Charles Taylor and Friedrich Nietzsche to support my investigation, I will look at whether Taylor’s quote ‘one cannot be a self on one’s own’ (Taylor, 1989, pg.36) is shown to be true as a result of lockdowns and subsequent isolation, or whether COVID-19 provided students with a chance to embrace Nietzsche’s heroic individualism and create a stronger sense of self.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

How did the Covid-19 Pandemic affect the population?

My paper will explore the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global population, with a focus on its effects on the UK. During the pandemic, there were multiple lockdowns, inflicted by the government, that changed the way we lived drastically. Research shows the rise in levels of stress, anxiety and, depression with an overall decrease in the population’s mental health. My research aims to explore the social and psychological impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the population. The philosophical concepts that will be used, will provide a baseline and foundation into why the expected freedom and typical normalities of day-to-day life, that were taken away from us during the pandemic, were so important in our human understanding and human agency. Incorporating evidence from personal correspondence, statistics, alongside Philosophical concepts, this research will demonstrate that there has been a drastic social change in society. I will be arguing two theses in this essay that I believe to be extremely important to consider and explore. Firstly, the regulations during the pandemic have distorted social relations and affected our human understanding about ourselves and the society we live in. Additionally, we have not yet returned to the same place we were in as a society before the pandemic hit. These claims are particularly clear throughout the research involved within this essay.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

The Rise of Apocalyptic Styling Following the Covid-19 Pandemic and its Effects.

My project is set in the domain of existential fashion, particularly the rise of apocalyptic styling following the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects, both positive and negative. I have drawn philosophical concepts from the works of Jacques Derrida, including his ‘Of Grammatology’. Alongside this, I have referred to Ulrick Beck’s ‘Risk Society’, Risikogesellschaft (1986), in relation to people becoming increasingly preoccupied with a sense of impending doom that has been brought about by the pandemic: portrayed through recent fashion choices and explorations. To support my discussion further, I have incorporated the works of Marilynn H. Johnson in her Adorning Bodies (2022), in which she explores the philosophical implications of bodily adornment. Johnson notes that existential feelings and thoughts inspiring people’s fashion decisions, are not uncommon. As we have seen previously, different trends and popularity of statement pieces of clothing, rise following grand world events, such as in the 1960s in response to the Vietnam war and adjacent Civil Rights movement. The rise of apocalyptic fashion serves as proof of the determination and adaptability of human beings, along with our willingness to persevere through difficult situations, and it is this that I have delved into in this project.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Can powerful nations act morally in the face of Coronavirus?

A philosophical investigation in the response carried out by the USA, the UK & New Zealand against Coronavirus

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Voices of the Pandemic: Consensus and Conflict in Attitudes towards COVID-19 Restrictions and the relation to the views of Karl Popper and Fredrich Nietzsche.

The recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown a clear display of the attitudes and values some of society withhold in response to the restrictions and guidelines put in place to protect the larger community. While there is constant conflict between opinions on these restrictions, one thing that the debate almost always comes back to is the question of freedom and freewill, and whether enforced mandates are a violation of this or a commitment to the greater good regardless of sacrifice. Current events present this question; however, this discussion is not new and has been debated throughout history by many philosophers, but speakers Karl Popper and Fredrich Nietzsche present particularly appealing arguments that can be applied to both the conversation regarding the lack of freewill in this modern pandemic and in the past with reference to morality and religion. Furthermore, the debate of the validity of the proof behind the reasoning for the COVID-19 restrictions is constantly argued, often from two uncompromising parties, one that sides heavily with the scientifically backed restrictions and the other who completely disagrees with the evidence and its validity. The heavily discussed philosophical concepts of rationalism, empiricism and relativism can be applied to this argument to analyse each viewpoint and provide an insight on how philosophers like Popper and Nietzsche would approach the argument based on their philosophical beliefs and views of the above concepts. With this project being heavily based on the differing viewpoints of the community during the pandemic and linking this to different philosophical concepts based in several different fields: rationality, focusing on the subject’s personal beliefs; empiricism, focusing on scientific, verifiable truth; and relativism, focusing on the subjects moral and religious beliefs.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Investigating the management of the coronavirus pandemic in England during 2020, and discussing the cultural shaping of identity and the value of liberty for individuals

The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has affected thousands of lives in England and South Korea. The management of the virus has been difficult, in terms of creating regulations that the common people would be willing to follow.
The responses in both countries, however, were significantly different. It can be considered that due to the contrasting cultures and identities, the responses from the people and the management from the governments were influenced by such background frameworks that are the foundations of the priorities.
This suggests that in an individualistic or idiocentric country, the government will prioritise people’s liberty and the economy, thus placing more importance on individual lives rather than the collective, alluding to less consideration of those extremely vulnerable. In comparison to a collectivist or allocentric country, the government will prioritise everyone’s safety, and the people will respond with discipline, thoughtfulness and accepting of regulations, that could be deemed invasive, for the sake of defeating the virus and lowering mortality rates. By considering the cultural shaping of identities, the value of liberty is displayed, in which individualistic countries lean towards individual freedom than the collective safety.

This project explored the philosophies of Charles Taylor, Anthony Giddens and Zygmunt Bauman.
Other thoughts include the discussion of the East Asian Tradition, Confucius Ethics, with the sociological research of Geert Hofstede. The political and philosophical view of Robert Nozick will be utilised to understand the value of liberty.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Has the covid-19 pandemic enhanced poverty in England or has it simply exposed the poverty that already existed in our society?

looking at the question, ‘Has the covid-19 pandemic enhanced poverty in England or has it simply exposed the poverty that already existed in our society?’ with reference to Mbembe’s Necro politcs, The State of Exception, and Nixon’s idea of Slow Violence.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

An investigation into the ways in which consumer behaviour has changed as a result of the pandemic, how big tech companies are using this change for profit and the social implications of this.

The aim of this project is to look at consumerism, specifically consumer behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic and how it has evolved. The project will also explore how big tech companies such as Microsoft and Google are planning on using this for their own profit and power gain, whilst finally looking at some of the social and critical philosophy of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to highlight how this might be problematic and the potential implications it holds for society as a whole.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Has lockdown justly taken away our liberty?

The aim of this project is to determine if an approach which is based on trading off negative and positive liberty assess properly whether the lockdown was just or not? Within this project both positive and negative liberty will be measured within each theory. Comparing them whereby the positive sense protects life versus the negative sense in which our liberties are restricted. Both a Utilitarian and Hobbes social contract theory shall lean towards a more epistemologically positive approach to this. Through trying to give objective truths to measure the positive and negative liberties at play. While Badiou and Deleuze’s theory on the event shall offer a sceptical epistemological approach. They give a differing answer from a ‘simplistic’ objective approach. Finally, through Foucault and his biopolitics, we are able to highlight perhaps another force which is in play; power. Where in fact our pursuit for reintroduction of liberty is a paradox which was subsequently never there in the first place.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Can John Rawls’s theory of justice provide a fair way for the UK to deliberate how the COVID-19 financial support packages should have been distributed in a country that has become overcentralised?

The projects aim is to address the issue of fairness found in the negotiation process between the central government and Greater Manchester local governments. This issue of fairness stemmed from the overcentralised nature of the national government structure. John Rawls’s theory of justice will be used to rethink a fair deliberative position.
The territory of this project is the North-South divide which has been created from the regional inequalities which co-exist in England. Overcentralisation has meant these inequalities are not being addressed and this has created a feeling of unfairness among the North.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issues found in the territory. The chosen object for this project demonstrates this as it explores the negotiations between Greater Manchester local governments and central government over COVID-19 financial support. Greater Manchester had minimal influence in these negotiations and believed this to be an unfair deliberation process and outcome.
So this project will address the issue of fairness with John Rawls theory of justice. It will provide a way to rethink the deliberative position to ensure a fair negotiation process and fair social circumstances under which an agreement can be made.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

An Analysis of the Origins, Structure and Legitimacy of Conspiracy Theories Concerning the Coronavirus Pandemic: Utilizing the Falsification Principle to Distinguish Between Warranted and Unwarranted Conspiracy Theories.

In this project, I will start out by analysing the origin and structure of conspiracy theories in general. I will then conduct an analysis of the data regarding public opinion on various issues within the pandemic, using the previous sections to create assertions which aim to explain the statistical trends seen in figures 1-4. In search of providing a competent method to demarcate between warranted and unwarranted conspiracy theories — I will appeal to Karl Popper’s falsification principle, with attention also paid to his conception of conspiracy theories. Unintentionally, throughout my research, I have come to speculate that the real concern is not so much these obviously unfalsifiable conspiracies that the media would have you believe are incredibly prevalent — but the deflection away from the competence and authority of the government. I will reference Giorgio Agamben’s thoughts on this emerging structure of totalitarianism present within the government and argue that we ought not propose these unified conspiracy theories which require stretches of the imagination — but simply that we should approach the media and government with an unbiased eye, doing justice to the data in front of us.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

An investigation into track and trace during the COVID-19 pandemic from a Deleuzian and Guattarian Perspective

The object of study for my stage three project is track and trace. In late 2019 the COVID-19 pandemic was reported as an unusual virus. At the beginning of 2020, the virus, now identified as a novel coronavirus began to spread throughout the entire world. Aside from a lockdown and a vaccine that had to be developed, the UK government invested heavily into a contact tracing system called track and trace. The aim of this system would be to trace who had come into contact with those that had testing positive for the virus so they could isolate and quarantine. Despite being heavily funded, track and trace has only a “marginal impact on transition of the virus”. This essay will be investing track and trace and what affected the way it was organised. By understanding it with reference to Deleuzian and Guattarian thought, it will be considered why track and trace was organised the way it was with a historical approaching using quantitative data and then why this meant track and trace was unsuccessful using an axiological approach. The territory in which the object will be considered is from political responses to catastrophes and centralisation.
In order to make this invested, this essay will attempt to give a broad description of Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of state form thought and nomad form thought and the rhizomatic, and then discussing whether it is relevant into track and trace. State form and nomad form thought is the outlining how the state has power not only explicitly through laws but also by giving itself a rational justification for its framework. By considering the war machine, an entity that exists outside the state, Deleuze and Guattari develop nomad thought in order to offer an alternative to state thought, which is used to critique how the UK state organised track and trace. The rhizome is Deleuze and Guattari’s description metaphysics where the world operates as a rhizome, meaning it is fundamentally decentralised. This will be used to critique the fact track and trace was centralised. Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus is used primary to develop these concepts and understood with reference Eugene Holland’s A Thousand Plateaus: a reader. Moreover, the essay uses information from the BBC and The Guardian to understand how track and trace worked and how successful it was. By considering this information, it will be investigated whether Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts are relevant to track and trace, considering how neoliberal policy affected how track and trace was organised, how sources advocated for centralisation in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and finally whether Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts are relevant.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Mitigating the Effects of Covid-19

My Object is Covid-19 mental health, as I believe that mental health has not had enough importance throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. I highlight this pressing issue using psychological studies that show the link between Lockdown and mental health.
Project Aim:
To use my philosophical concepts to offer solutions at mitigating the effects of Covid-19 mental health, I shall not be suggesting that the physical effects of the virus should be disregarded.

Within my project, I use two philosophical concepts – Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism and Ayn Rand’s rational egoism.
Sartre’s existentialism focuses on our own individual freedom as he claims that we do not have a general human essence to conform to. Sartre also has insights into why we experience anxiety which include factors such as abandonment and responsibility, all feelings exaggerated within a lockdown.
Ayn Rand’s rational egoism denies selfishness as an evil motive, and instead, Rand promotes placing oneself first in order to gain a clear conscience to make rationally informed decisions. Our integrity and values will ensure that making selfish decisions will not lead to immoral acts, and therefore we should be making more selfish decisions.

Categories
2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The extreme task of prioritising patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Object – The object I will be examining is to do with the question of medical treatment and prioritisation in UK hospitals, in relation to a pandemic scenario such as covid-19 pandemic.

Aim:
How – I am applying different ethical concepts to the question of prioritisation in order to find which one will be the most helpful in deciding which patients to treat.

Why – I am looking at this because it has been a very relevant problem during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully I can find the best way to prioritise patients

Concepts & thinkers:
Fletcher – situations ethics
Mill – Rule Utilitarianism
Foucault – Biopolitics and governmentality

Main sources:
Fletcher – Situation Ethics: the new morality
Mill – Utilitarianism
NHS
Foucault –The Birth of Biopolitics