2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Credit – Freedom or Control?

Credit will, in all likelihood affect everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it be a student loan, a mortgage, a credit card or buying a car ‘on finance’, the possibilities are vast.

I will look at the ideas of Hegel, who subscribes to the view that it is property is the embodiment of freedom, as well as that it is essential to the development of one’s personality, individuality and Asking whether credit can be seen to enhance one’s access to private property and therefore enhance their freedom.

I will then look at Lazzarato, who explores the debtor creditor relationship arguing that everyone, in the neoliberal age, has become debtors through a process of subjectivation by their creditors. But is this the case?

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

‘Carpe Your Crypto Diem’ The Digitalisation of Currency as an Act of Political Liberation

This project aims to establish if cryptocurrencies are liberating, offering more political freedom. It will also consider if they’re a positive development for society. To do this it will answer several questions. Firstly, it will define what cryptocurrencies are and introduce key examples. Then it will consider if cryptocurrencies can be understood as money. By presenting a genealogy of money and following how money has evolved it will demonstrate how our intuitive understanding of money is flawed. Money is a social institution, used to represent credit as Henry Macleod suggests. It will discuss the social ontology of money further, introducing the works of John Austin and John Searle. This will demonstrate that money isn’t something inherently valuable, rather it’s an object with an assigned function that society holds a set of beliefs about. Therefore, digital tokens or cryptocurrencies could function of money. However, they’re lacking the trust money requires to be credible. This project will then question why we don’t trust cryptocurrencies. It will consider why we trust the currencies we use today. Ultimately, governments establish this trust, and they are put in a position to do this via the social contract. Cryptocurrencies have no links to governments and therefore lack this. However, by discussing monetary policy this project will demonstrate how governments take their power and control further, manipulating our spending to reach their own targets. This project will question if this could be the reason why governments vilify cryptocurrencies, are they doing this to maintain their own power? This brings us to our last question; can cryptocurrencies liberate us from this control? It will consider the possibility of establishing a techno-Leviathan. Could placing an automated self-sustaining system as sovereign grant us more freedom. Ultimately, this project will conclude that this would be politically liberating. Cryptocurrencies remove third parties from monetary exchange, limiting their control and granting an individual more freedom.

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.

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

The nature of the decentralised operating system within Bitcoin and its relation to the configurations of society

Providing an in-depth study into the operations taking place within Bitcoin and outlining the current and possible future effects it could have in changing the way in which the monetary system works. This project will involve the Philosophical implications it could have on changing the way in which society as a whole is understood to operate.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Fairness and Proportionality in U.S. Law: HSBC Money Laundering Scandal

This project aims to explore issues of fairness and proportionality in U.S. law through an examination of the outcome of the HSBC money laundering scandal. Federal investigators found that the bank had been laundering money for years.

U.S. Senator Carl Levin : “Due to poor AML (Anti-Money Laundering) controls, HBUS exposed the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious traveller’s cheques, bearer share corporations, and rogue jurisdictions.”

The bank admitted to having laundered hundreds of millions of dollars for drugs traffickers and having circumvented procedure to permit transactions with sanctioned countries including Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Yet the Department of Justice did not criminally indict the bank for fear of the failure of this key financial institution and potential detriment to the global economy. Instead it was given a $1.9bn fine; the equivalent of four weeks’ earnings for HSBC.

Rawls – A Theory of Justice
Rawls’s Theory of Justice will be used to analyse whether the Department of Justice have upheld their moral duty as a legal institution in deciding to grant the bank amnesty for its crimes on the condition of it paying a fine. His concept of justice as fairness is invaluable in my own assessment that in the light of this case, all citizens are apparently not treated as equals before the law.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Can a Banker Be a Philosopher?

Using the philosophy of Pierre Hadot and by comparing and contrasting the figures of Socrates and Plato with Siegmund Warburg, is it possible that Warburg could be just that: A Banker and a Philosopher?

Most people imagine that philosophy consists in delivering discourses from the heights of a chair, and in giving classes based on texts. But what these people utterly miss is the uninterrupted philosophy which we see being practiced every day in a way which is perfectly equal to itself. . . . Socrates did not set up grandstands for his audience and did not sit upon a professional chair; he had no fixed timetable for talking or walking with his friends. Rather, he did philosophy sometimes by joking with them, or by drinking or going to war or to the market with them, and finally by going to prison and drinking poison. He was the first to show that at all times and in every place, in everything that happens to us, daily life gives us the opportunity to do philosophy. (Plutarch, Whether a Man should Engage in Politics When he is Old, 26, 796d. Cited. Hadot, 2006, p.38)

With this in mind, we see immediately that philosophy is something you do and that perhaps it is something available to everyone at all times.

Siegmund Warburg: “happiness in life consists in fulfilment of duties and not of desires.”

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Property Magazine: the Realities of the Market

Many would acknowledge, that in some form, the contemporary financial landscape is separated from what we would consider ‘reality’. The money which is exchanged within in the financial markets seems to have no grounding outside the markets in which it is exchanged. This edition looks at the problem and enquires to what extent this is a problem.

Capitalism. Can capitalism and the markets that work within be justified on moral grounds? A Property Week special report puts aside our intuitive moral assumptions and looks in greater depth at the concept of capitalism and the ethical dilemmas that arise out of this system.

Hyperreality. By commencing deregulation in the global financial institutions, have the governments of Thatcher and Reagan of the 1980s created a new economic domain of hyperreality? This edition looks at whether responsibility can be placed back into the financial markets.

Questioning the economic realities of the market with particular reference to the commercial property market

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Are we Naturally Self-Seeking Individuals, or does Society make us that Way?

Territory: My Territory is the Credit Crunch, from which I am looking into whether humans, as a race, are naturally self seeking individuals, or whether society impacts and influences us, making us this way. Concepts: The two concepts that I have chosen to analyse and examine are Thomas Hobbes’s theory of self seeking individuals within the State of Nature, with Charles Taylor and Friedrich Nietzsche’s theories of social philosophy. Our current economic climate created for me many questions about how we were able to get into the financial mess that we have. So I chose to investigate how and why consumers have become obsessed by materialistic possession, to the extreme extent that they are prepared to get into debt because of it. I believe that our recent economic crisis has arisen due to consumer spending and the change in political power. Therefore I began my project by comparing and analyzing the change in governmental power over the last 30 years, whilst researching the causes and effects of the credit crunch – because I feel that these two issues are interrelated – in the hope that I was able to find a correlation between the election of a new political power and the change in societies spending habits that led to the credit crunch. To support this belief I firstly looked at Charles Taylor, who believes that identity is socially constructed and dependent. This combined with Nietzsche, who saw the self as becoming and forever changing, supports my theory that society, trends and governmental power impacts individuals actions, which I have taken to include spending habits. To oppose this argument I analysed Thomas Hobbes who believes that individuals are naturally, selfish and competitive, because each only seeks to preserve and to strengthen themselves. I have advanced this theory to support the idea that humans are still selfish and competitive today, so what someone else has, they want. It is our new survival technique. Conclusion: I have concluded that society is now a combination of the two. Evolving as a species we have brought our selfish and competitive nature with us, which I believe has been propelled by societies, governments and trends to cause buying to become our modern day method of self preservation. Key Philosophical Source: Hobbes, Thomas (1985) Leviathan; Taylor, Charles (1989) Sources of The Self, The Making of the Modern Identity; Nehamas, Alexander (1985) Nietzsche, Life as Literature

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The 2007-2009 Financial Crisis: Enlightenment Reason in the Financial Markets

Project Territory, Object and Aims: “We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.” This is the opening statement from economist George Soros found in ‘The New Paradigm for Financial Markets’. Due to the importance of this event I decided to study the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis within the Territory of Economics with the aim of diagnosing its causes. The object contains many smaller fields which have contributed to its emergence such as the growth and collapse of the United States housing bubble and the collapse of Mortgage lenders and related businesses. House prices and the value of the FTSE 100 are depicted below. Quantitative Economic versus Qualitative Hermeneutical Analysis: I discovered the causes of the crisis by collecting quantitative economic data to understand the preceding events. Initial analysis led me to the conclusion that the financial crisis was caused by poor lending policies of mortgages that could not be repaid. To contrast this research and fully engage with my object I then collected Qualitative evidence from economist George Soros and philosophical data from my chosen field of Critical theory. Specifically I used the works of Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas regarding types of reason born in the Enlightenment era. After collecting this research I was led to a deeper, more fundamental finding stating that: the financial crisis was in fact caused by the use of Instrumental and Subject Centred Reason within the financial markets leading to the use of Identity Thinking. With the actual philosophical causes of the crisis identified I then investigated Adorno and Habermas’ solutions to those types of derogatory reason. These solutions are: Communicative Action and Negative Dialectics. I then applied these as a solution to the financial crisis itself.

2004 Abstracts Stage 2

Money Makes the World Go Round: how money affects society

OBJECTIVES: • TO EXAMINE THE ORIGINS OF MONEY • TO EXPLORE WHAT MONEY REPRESENTS • TO SEE HOW MONEY AFFECTS CLASS • TO EXPLORE A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MONEY AND NATURE. Money is thought to have originated in about 800BC and has continued to develop ever since. Coins or metal money were the predominant form of money until banks were introduced. Paper money was then introduced, offering a promise of payment in metal. Since then we have become more distant from actual metal money as we use debit cards, credit cards and internet banking. Fraud and Forgery emerged almost as soon as money was invented. This led me to ask what money represented to make it so desirable. I came to the conclusion that money represented power, status within society, privilege, respect and an easy way of life. I looked at class and how boundaries have changed as views towards money have changed. Class is now much harder to define as money is more available and therefore new classifications have to be introduced and these vary from person to person. The human-nature divide is linked to the way we look at money. For example, the first banks emerged at the beginning of the enlightenment, when science was beginning to distance man from nature. We now live in an increasingly computerised world and think of ourselves as further away from nature. This is happening as we are becoming further removed from the value of money.

2004 Abstracts Stage 3

The Economy of the Sacred

This project will address the transition in human mediation between self, society and world affected by the transition from religious mediation to financial mediation. The problem will be posed from the perspective of circulation and the historical consequences suspected to arise from unrestricted human interaction. Broadly speaking the project will focus on; *The framing of transgression and taboo in Hittite, Scriptural, Roman, Ecclesiastical and British Civil law *The Council of Elvira and the formulation of the principle of una cara by Basil the Great *The birth of the Bank of England and consequent transfer of value and mediation *The contemporary economic situation which, with the demand for deregulation of markets and increasing tendency toward investment in areas of low governance leaves social mediation almost entirely up to finance and credit- the promise of value rather than value itself