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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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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

China’s ‘Social Credit’ System: Power, Freedom and Individuality.

This paper argues that China’s social credit system (CSCS) has serious philosophical consequences for Chinese citizens on the principles of power, freedom and individuality. The CSCS is a system by which individuals’ actions are monitored and consequently rewarded or punished against what the Chinese state deems to be either “trustworthy” or “untrustworthy” actions. Through the medium of the CSCS, the state has the power to dictate the truth about the rightness or wrongness of action. This paper holds that Foucault’s conception of power and, specifically, his notion that power and knowledge are intertwined, is paramount to understanding the relationship that the state and society share in China. To be precise, this relationship is one in which the state, through its power, controls and manages truth (about action). This paper does however argue that Foucault’s notion that power operates vertically (from top-down and bottom-up) is not representative of the political framework of China. As regards the principles of freedom and individuality, J. S. Mill’s philosophy on liberty and freedom is considered in context with the CSCS. This paper shows that under the CSCS, there can be no possibility, or at least a greatly limited possibility, for any individual freedom and, by extension, individuality. Mill argues that individual freedom is essential for well-functioning liberal states, and as such his arguments are central to the philosophical enquiry into the CSCS.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

The Ethics of Ambiguity and climate change: the role our freedom plays when dealing with anthropogenic changing global climates.

Climate change has, and will continue to have, a huge effect on all of our lives. It is an inescapable fact that we will all have to live with the effects of ever changing global climates and so the way in which we decide to react to this is extremely important. Simone De Beauvoir’s existentialist thought in her book, the Ethics of Ambiguity, outlines the importance of willing the freedom of others in order to be truly free ourselves. Therefore, her book provided the perfect stepping stone for exploring the role individual and collective freedom plays in helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploring the potentially harmful implications of the censorship of thought and speech for politics and philosophy.

The societies we consider free also appear unable to resolve the free speech question. I attempt, in this project, to examine the type of speech we consider valuable, and our motives for doing so; whilst also hoping to point out a number of institutions that, for their very telos, heavily restrict the expression of individuals. I discuss the nature of the truth itself, and the value in it, whilst also arguing latterly against the Platonic ‘logos’, in favour of a Nietzschean perspectivism. The project hopes, too, to highlight and add to the discourse around ideological conformity in the 21st century.

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2016 Abstracts Stage 2

Conservation or Cruel…Is it right to keep animals captive?

Territory: I will discuss whether it is right to keep animals captive. In particular, if it is right to keep them captive for our entertainment. Animal captivity raises many important moral questions: Is ever right to restrict animal’s liberty and if so, under what conditions? Do human beings have the right to keep other animals captive? Are we the superior species and if so, why is this the case?

Concepts: Peter Singer: humans are animals but language makes us overlook this. As a utilitarian and hedonist, Singer looks towards the end result, where like human beings, other animals choose pleasure over suffering. Kant: we do not have any direct ethical duties to non-human animals. We only owe ethical duties to rational beings, and nonhuman animals are not included in this group.

‘If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?’ – Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Capitalism, Fashion & Freedom: an Exploration into the Freedom of Choice in Modern Britain

– In this project I will be exploring the idea of liberty within a capitalist society… is the ‘free’ society we think we live in really that ‘free’?
– In terms of fashion: ideas of seasonal fashion change and the choice available in fashion outlets currently as well as the influence of the media, including social media.

Looking at the effect of the economical system of capitalism on society in modern Britain, I have chosen to look at philosophical ideas of Marx and Hegel to compare and contrast their views on it.

In light of the exploration into philosophical theory, I will further the study by using and applying the concepts to analyse the issue of capitalism, freedom and fashion. Using the arguments of Marx and Hegel applied to the idea of the freedom of fashion in society at the present time I will conclude by asking whether capitalism is working to the advantage or disadvantage of our liberty.E690

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Free Will in Relation to Advertising in the Modern Society.

In my project I hope to achieve an understanding of the free will problem and through this explore how various elements of society may subconsciously coerce us into action that we do not want to take.

I will look into elements of;
• Causal determinism
• Libertarianism
• Compatibilism
• Self determination
• Coercion
• Desires

I will also be looking at Hobbes and Kant to compare and contrast their views on freedom and then look at the modern society and explore how the concept of freedom can change and also how it is relative to the self. I will then look at political coercion and various forms of advertising to show how we can be controlled and our freedom can be easily threatened, I will then ask if we even truly have freedom for it to be threatened or is this coercion essential to society and is it even important that we have a totally free will.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

In Braveheart we see Men Willing to Die for Freedom: is Freedom more than just a Concept?

Territory: Braveheart the 1995 film by Mel Gibson. Focus: William Wallace: I *am* William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free men… and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? Concept: Freedom / Free will. What I will do in this project: I intend to look at the concept of freedom and free will. In the film Braveheart we see William Wallace lead the Scottish people in an uprising against the rule of King Edward I. Edward took over Scotland when the Scottish king died without an heir giving Scottish lands to English lords: such behaviour led to an uprising in Scotland as lower class took on the English armies in a bid for freedom. Freedom is so important people will give their lives for it. I explore the Kantian notion of the transcendental self, he believed that our purpose was to be rational with intrinsic value because of our ability to reason. This ability to reason sets us apart from all other creatures. This ability to reason is only possible if we are autonomous, because how can we make rational decisions unless we have free will. I will then counterbalance this view with reference to Karl Marx. Marx believes our nature is shaped by a social structure that rests upon an economic base. This means we are therefore determined by economics, freedom is restricted by the means of production, and we can only have any semblance of freedom if we can afford freedom.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The Prevention of the two Possible Outcomes for Society

Territory: My project this year is a follow on from my project last year and so my territory has remained the same. My territory is society itself, but particularly the problems of society and the two possible futures for society those being either; the civilised state of nature where everyone is out to get everyone in order to increase their standing in society, this is seen in things such as the culture of legal action. The other scenario is a totalitarian state where the government take absolute control to prevent a collapse in the civilised state of nature or full anarchy, but it can also be seen happening through such things as political correctness and the nanny culture. Aim: My aim for my project is to find a way to prevent these two scenarios from occurring but also to find a way to tackle some of today’s societies problems. I plan to do this by looking for the root of the problem and then tackle the problem from the root up. I believe that the root is society’s obsession with liberty and equality with liberty being the more problematic of the two. To tackle the problem I shall be using theories from Social Contract thinkers such as Hobbes and Hegel to thinkers such as Levinas and their view on meaning. Overall I want to try and make a system where there is liberty and equality, but it is not an obsession rather a balance between liberty, equality, order and meaning to ensure a society where we can grow as moral human beings with the most pleasant life possible without having to resort to extremes to do so.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 2

If we Possess Free-Will, how was the Holocaust Allowed to Happen?

In this project I hope to discuss the problem of evil – namely how God can exist as evil does. By examining the Holocaust in regards to this I hope to be able to shed some new light on this infamous example of evil and suffering beyond comprehension. Did the German people knowingly allow the Holocaust to happen and if so what were the reasons behind this? By reading Rudolf Hoess’ autobiography I hope to be able to discover whether following orders removes all moral responsibility. Ultimately, could it happen again?

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Mad or Misjudged? A Progressive Outlook in Mental Health Care

The territory for my project is Mental Health while the object is the treatment and models of explanation for mental illness. The concepts I will be using can be defined as Madness, Freedom and the Superego. Over the past few decades there has occurred an important transformation in the type of care offered to the mentally afflicted. The introduction of community based care in place of institutionalisation has generated a debate surrounding the danger that mentally ill patients present. I will identify the pros and cons of such schemes drawing on statistical data and public attitudes. Unfortunately, there generally exists a negative stigma towards the mentally ill which in turn affects the plausibility of their presence in the community. Would you object to living next door to a schizophrenic? I have further incorporated the transition from a natural scientific explanation of mental illness to the triumph of social psychology. The Philosophy. I have utilized the work of Michel Foucault to identify a historical change in the concept of madness and employed his ideas relating to the power of knowledge and experience. Surrounding the treatment dichotomy, I have identified a contrast between the ethical views of Alasdair MacIntyre and the moral and political theory of Thomas Hobbes. I will further look at the work of Sigmund Freud in order to raise the question; to what extent does society exercise its Super-ego?

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Our Modern Day Love for Convenience’: what makes an authentic marriage?

Territory/object: Marriage/Thai Brides. Concepts: contract, marriage, freedom/autonomy, love. Thinkers/texts: Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Change/contrast: contrast between Thai Bride marriages/modern day British marriages. Contrast object with arranged marriages and love marriages. Main objective: My project is driven by the intuition that our normal Western understanding of marriage as the lifetime union of two loved ones, (under a public formal contract), is questionably going to become a thing of the past. Here, we must take into consideration factors such as: -the world interacting on an unprecedented technological advances,(Internet access, accessibility to cheap travel, etc) and, -more importantly, the resulting impact of influential views from different cultures upon each other. I will be investigating what marriage is in today’s world/in the past, and whether much has really changed. I also ask the question as to whether modern Britain has time for love? Intended knowledge outcomes: By engaging in this project, I intend to: 1. learn about the historical origins of marriage; 2. be acquainted with the standard descriptions of an authentic marriage and the justifications of these; 3. be able to define the central concepts of marriage and property; 4. demonstrate the connection between my key texts and everyday understandings of a phenomenon (here, marriage).

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

How Free are We?

Territory: ∗ For my Project territory I chose to look at the work of Derren Brown, I chose this territory because I was interested in exploring the idea of free will, and the influence of others over our free will. I considered that Derren Brown is a perfect example of another human being having a strong influence over someone else’s actions. Concepts: ∗ The concepts I chose to explore were the influence of other people on our free will and consequently how much freedom do we actually have? Philosophical ideas and Objectives: ∗ My exploration of the concept of freedom lead me to examine the work of various philosophers including Kant, using in particular the ‘Categorical Imperative’ taken from his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. ∗ After this examination I hope to be able to conclude whether or not we free and consequently responsible for our actions.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

“A Million Little Pieces” (James Frey)

The book about the time James Frey spent in a rehab clinic found its way onto the New York Times bestseller list after Oprah Winfrey added it to her “World’s Most Powerful book club.” Starting up with concepts such as freewill and determinism and the authenticity of autobiographies I began to look at what part the self plays in writing such works. Looking at Rousseau’s Confessions amongst other things it was obvious that a shift had occurred in terms of human responsibility coinciding with the greater importance placed upon the individual through the centuries. Starting with the different approaches of Rousseau and Frey I began to contrast the concept of Freewill in terms of Addiction. Modern thought would be to class addiction as a chronic illness where both the involuntary cravings and the voluntary use (of given substance) are CAUSED. However, “The recognition that addiction is a brain disease does not mean that the addict is simply a hapless victim” Whilst also taking into account the contemporary philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, I looked at to what extent the addict can be held responsible for his actions. The extreme philosophy of Sartre and to an extent Frey leaves the responsibility solely on the shoulders of the individual, whereas modern thought including genetic work claims a strong link to Determinism.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Democratic Principles in Lithuania

I have chosen the subject for several reasons. Apart from being able to investigate the journey of the development of democratic ideas in Europe, I had a chance to review the history of my own country and therefore present its difficult and passionate strife for the things that the Western part of Europe has taken for granted for so long. The picture below represents the unity and devotion that were the main accelerators in achieving what are now 3 proud independent democratic countries. It is a picture of the events of 1989 August, when people of all 3 Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) gathered together and joined hands across the 3 nations ( 650 km, more than 400 miles) in order to demonstrate their opposition to Soviet rule. Somewhere in that live fence stood myself, a five year old, expressing my right to be free. Philosophical Concept: I investigate the ways freedom can be manifested in a society. My main sources are Mill’s “On Liberty” and Rousseau’s “Social Contract” that represent the discussion between collectiveness and individuality that is crucial in defining the principles of any form of government, especially democratic.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Harry Potter and Good versus Evil … are humans free to choose?

I am beginning my personal project by studying the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling as my territory. More Specifically my territory is the first book by Rowling; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I will consider some of the facts within the novel such as its characters, the plotline and how both of these aspects of the novel fit into my main focus of the Harry Potter books i.e. the concept of good versus evil and indeed whether or not humans are free to choose to follow good or evil. As I mentioned my concept that I have chosen to study is are humans free to follow good or evil. As a philosophical framework for this concept I will compare the Christian theological position of St. Augustine and Pelagius with the work of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. As far as St. Augustine and Pelagius are concerned I will explore aspects such as the human will, human nature, freedom, free will, original sin, predestination, and the grace of God. With the above issues I will consider where St. Augustine and Pelagius agree on these points and where they differ. From this position I will compare the Christian attitude to Nietzsche’s attitude to whether humans are free to follow good or evil. I will consider aspects of his philosophy such as God is dead, free will as an illusion, there being no such thing as morality and good versus evil, the significance of power defining how successful a person is, the will to power, and Nietzsche’s argument against authority. Having gone through my philosophical framework I will compare Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to a parallel territory. For this I have chosen Homer’s The Odyssey. I will compare how stories were told in ancient Greece to how stories are told now. I will also compare why the Stories were told in both territories and for what purpose the stories were told. I will ask how has story telling changes and why? What implications that has on the respective societies? Finally I will consider how the change to stories, their content and the way they are told affect us today in the way we live our lives.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 3

Freedom, Identity and a Brave New World

Aims: I aim to find in this project the changes in our beliefs on freedom over the past 50 years. I will do this by examining a number of different areas; Politics, sociology and philosophy. I will investigate how far we are free and how far we, as individuals, are able to have an input in global decisions. I will also use Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece Brave New World. With this I will compare the negative utopia Huxley created with our world today. How far are we conditioned with the use of television and mass media and can you compare these two modern creations with Huxley’s invented Soma? In terms of politics, this is the domain where are where are freedoms are formed. Politics sets forth the rules that both protect us and inhibit us. However how far has and can our voice been heard? How far can we influence governments? With one million people protesting in London alone over the war in Iraq, the British government still sent troops to a war which was both illegal and unethical. On a sociological level I will be examining freedom in terms of racism and minority groups. Have minority groups gained equal footing a predominantly white western world? With the philosophy world I will use Derrida and most of all Michel Foucault. He aimed to show that we are in actual fact freer that we actually think. He confronts all types of political thought. He aimed to find links between global politics and the individual. Sources: As I have said the major philosopher I will use in Michel Foucault and his works Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexulaity. I will also look at philosophers such as Nietzsche and Derrida. The major piece of literature I will use is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Which will supply both an early twentieth century view on freedom and a piece with which I can compare our world today.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Is it Possible for Soldiers to have Freedom of Morals, Free Will and Individuality in a Military Society based on Discipline, Obedience and Unquestionable Loyalty?

My territory of investigation is the military and its members, including regular soldiers, regiment officers and commanding officers. The concept is morality and freedom of will within the military society. The ethical and moral basis that the military lives by is all very well in order to justify the actions taken by the military but can a soldier just ignore his own morals and values and live in a system where morals are dictated? The soldier loses his freedom of morality in a strict society where unquestioning obedience is a requirement and all decisions are made for the individual. The army operates on a system of discipline, loyalty and mutual trust. These combined make the military an efficient and organised system but are the requirements for soldier’s realistic? A main source I have been using is the Military Covenant, which shows the moral component of the army and the inner qualities needed to be a soldier, such as selfless commitment, courage, discipline, integrity and loyalty. These qualities are brought out by and taught by the leaders but how much responsibility do they have? Are they just the pawns of the people above them in the hierarchy? These questions all lead back to the notion of freedom of morals. I have used Hegelian philosophy through out this study to help answer the above questions. The Philosophy of Right is used in order to highlight the importance of freedom as only belonging to a social being who partakes in ethical life, only in this sense is the individual truly a person. Therefore taking away this freedom, like in the military, the person loses what makes them human. According to Hegel the will is essentially free. This distinguishes us from animals, having purposes and striving deliberately to achieve them. The society that we live in plays a large part in forming our wants and desires and Hegel never loses sight of this. His theory of abstract freedom shows how we do as we please in a state of freedom that is pushed to and fro by the social and historical forces of our times. This is an important point in relation to the freedom of will in the military as it supports the idea that soldiers do choose to limit free will but in doing so open themselves up to a different society where individual choice is limited but it is maybe just an extreme version of the society that we all live in where our choices are shaped by our society. A key change that highlights freedom of choice and morality is the difference between an autocratic society, such as Germany under the rule of Hitler in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and the democratic society of Britain today. There is a huge difference in the military styles; Hitler ruled his military with a dictatorship that called for ‘blind obedience’ whereas any democratic society portrays freedom of choice and initiative. My objective is to discover if these two military systems are really that different in how a soldier is expected to obey orders based on military morals and believe in them fully. Is it possible for a human being to give up their values and morals in order to commit themselves fully to a strict military society? Are our morals really that flexible?

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The Righteousness of Self-Consciousness

Using Hegel’s Phenomenology, I examine the movements of self-consciousness apparent in a selection of socio-political incidents in contemporary Europe. Hegel’s work is not a rulebook for action or for history. But we can derive meaning in life only from the conceptual understanding of our experiences. Do all social acts have historical meaning? What part does morality have to play between consciousness and the other? Does true freedom mean the freedom to be righteous in all things?