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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

“To secure the future of the human species, we must colonise another planet.” Discuss the philosophical and ethical implications of this statement.

The human species faces three key threats that could lead to our extinction: virus threats, nuclear warfare and overpopulation. In order to secure the future of our species, there is a question as to whether we leave earth and colonise another planet. This essay examines that question with a central focus on Kant’s theory of duty and Kierkegaard’s idea that we must act on the strength of the absurd. It also uses value theory and Kierkegaard’s “teleological suspension of the ethical” to show that we can permissibly leave earth’s nature behind us. The argument that will be proposed throughout this essay is that, as a species, we have a moral obligation to leave our planet.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Risk

An investigation into the nature, history, prominence and management of risk on both a personal and professional level. To answer the question of whether humans or computers are more effective risk managers.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The construction of the ‘human’ in Marcus Tullius Cicero’s thought and its Heideggerian rejoinder

Progressively foregrounded precisely in its lack of coming to presence is the operation by which an individual’s human or non-human, inhuman, status is delineated. It is thus that the margin of delineation by which the propriety of a human being’s humanity is decided becomes questionable and prompts further reflection. Receiving its impetus from Martin Heidegger’s Letter on ‘Humanism’, the following essay shall take the ‘human’ as galvanized in the thought of Marcus Tullius Cicero as its object, foremost reflecting on the human is discursively constituted in the complementary texts De Republica and De Legibus. This essay thus contends that Cicero’s thought constitutes the exemplary object of the critique Heidegger’s letter poses, and as such provides an essential foil to Heidegger’s proposal as to how the notion of νόμος (nomos) should be uptaken in light of the truth of being.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Advanced Machine Intelligence: Orthogonality, Instrumental Convergence and the Dangers of Value Misalignment

The object of this dissertation is artificial intelligence (AI), and in particular it concerns AI risk or AI safety. I argue for the veracity of Bostrom’s orthogonality thesis (2012) – contextualised with reference to Hume’s (2007) is-ought distinction – and instrumental convergence thesis (developed initially by Omohundro (2008) in terms of the “Basic AI Drives”). In combination, what these theses show is that the default outcome of advanced AI (AGI and ASI) is existential catastrophe, and thereby the importance of ensuring that the value systems of advanced artificial agents are human compatible. I consider two main approaches to the value alignment problem – direct specification and value learning – and point out the flaws in each. While this project does not offer its own approach value alignment, the central concern of AI safety, it does emphasise the necessity for AI research to undergo a perspectival shift and focus on the search for one. The AI community should, that is, be concerned foremost with AI safety rather than AI capability.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Can and how can an autistic subject live authentically in contemporary neoliberal, capitalist society?

This dissertation shall focus upon the vital topic of authenticity in the modern world and examine and question how and why Autistic individuals such as myself are inhibited from behaving in an authentic manner in a modern neoliberal, capitalist society and how subjects can transcend this in the western world holistically. To do this, one shall explore the associating factors of deemed developmental disorders, health the notion of neurodiversity and neoliberalism practically and philosophically, which has developed significantly in the modern age. The modern-day usage of the term neurodiversity, socially and philosophically, can be applied to supposed “high functioning autism” as not a lifelong, debilitating disability and thus illness, but as a neurological form of diversity in an endless spectrum of diversity within the subjective, multi-faceted human experience.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Would it be Better if Human Beings did not Exist?

If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist?” Schopenhauer

“Being brought into existence is not a benefit but always a harm” Benatar

“Our self-removal from this planet would still be a magnificent move… What do we have to lose?” Ligotti

This project will investigate the claim that human existence is a value.

There tends to be a given assumption that human existence is a good thing. I intend to question the validity of this and investigate whether it has valid justification.

The effects of human existence will be considered from three perspectives to determine whether human existence is worth its costs.

An ethical perspective will be used to evaluate the suffering and harm evoked by and for human beings.

An environmental perspective will contemplate the impact human beings have had on the planet and the detrimental effects caused.

A positive perspective will be adopted to investigate whether human beings deserve respect. It will be questioned if something would be lost without us.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Is Man Beast? Does Instinct Exist in Human Beings? Are We as Different from Animals as We Have Been Led to Believe?

Human Nature vs. Animal Nature
Does Instinct exist in Human beings? Are we as different from animals as we have been led to believe?
“If man has no instincts, all comparison with animals must be irrelevant.” – Midgley

Does EVIL exist in nature? Are humans in denial about the fact that they may well be the most dangerous beasts of them all? We have much to learn from the animal kingdom… Is wickedness an unavoidable element of human nature?

Mary Midgley (1919-) Beast and Man
W.H. Thorpe (19021986) Animal Nature and Human Nature
Sigmund Freud (18561939) The Ego and The Id
John Locke (1632-1704) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Rise of Anthropocentrism and the Disorientation of Humanity

Jean-Francois Lyotard 19241998:
An observation of the Postmodern condition, specifically: fragmentation of knowledge and society. Rise of performativity as a direct result of capitalism.

Martin Heidegger 1889 – 1976:
Brings to light the dangers inherent in modern technology and the dangers it possesses for the human condition.

One of humanity’s largest calamities over the past century has undoubtedly been the handling and care shown to its home planet. I aim to highlight the causes and effects of this shift in man’s position, to establish how and why this anthropocentrism that seems so prevalent and embedded in contemporary society came about and to propose that bio-mimicry could be the alternative to disaster – that of living in a burnt out husk of the planet Earth. I propose that there is something fundamentally wrong with the nature that this anthropocentrism has taken over the last century and that the field of bio-mimicry could aid humanity. This aid would not be the returning or encouragement toward a bio centric world view but perhaps a method to return humanity’s cognisance that we live in a competent universe, surrounded by the genius of incredible interrelated systems that we now seem to take for granted.

Peter Singer 1946 – Present:
A consideration of environmental ethics in order to judge whether our world is worth saving or if we should carry on charging down the path of exploitation and destruction.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

When Is Excess Too Great?

When is excess too great?

Due to anthropocentric approach to nature, a false conception of “progress” has been implemented which continues to push the boundaries of sustainability. With an unessential form of expenditure taking hold, a Society of the Spectacle is formed, in which essentials are abused to produce the unessential. If there is to be a change against unessential excess, is a reduction in population necessary?

Mill argues that a child should only be conceived if sufficient means can be provided.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Are we Ready for the new Technologies?

Although the idea of technology has been with mankind ever since the first tool was invented, the term has never achieved such a glorified status to which it was elevated in the twentieth century, a term and an aspect of science which will now take on an even more awe-inspiring tone in the twenty-first century; but now, eight years after the dawn of a new millennium, a millennium which was born into war, one cannot help to ask the question of whether the advent of new, more powerful technologies is actually beneficial to the progress of mankind, technologies which yes, could help many people, but also, if misused, bring about the premature end of our race. My project aims at discussing the repercussions of the prospective new sciences in our society, sciences which promise to change every aspect of life as we know it, and at asking the question of whether we are indeed ready for such power. I begin my discussion with a look at these new technologies, weighing the good aspects of them against the bad. Afterwards, in a slight departure from the technological basis of this project, I analyze the current state of society as I see it and discuss the problems which we must face before we even think about implementing new technologies; This part of the discussion will be aided by the philosophy of the situationists, specifically that of Guy Debord, regarding the society of the spectacle. After this analysis, I merge back into the theme of technology, and seek to examine the relationship between it and the spectacle before I address the views of technological determinism in relation to both Hegel’s and Nietzsche’s philosophy of history. Finally, I shall draw my conclusions regarding how ready we are as a race, a conclusion fully based on the discussions I have endeavored in to that point.

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2004 Abstracts Stage 2

The Relationship Between Humanity and Nature

I wanted to explore why we (Western Society) have the belief that it is right for humans to have authority over the rest of the environment and to dominate it, utilising it however is deemed fit. My outlook within this project is to clarify differing perceptions of nature and how they are influential. My aim is to establish how society has got the perception of nature that it has. Intro: the underlying question is why do humans believe that they have the right to dominate the environment? I intend to clarify differing attitudes towards, and beliefs about nature. Discuss the different focuses of the discussion. What is nature? Different Viewpoints on Nature. Environmental ethics: anthropocentrism, speciesism, eco-feminism, humanism, idealism, deep ecology, animal rights, vegetarianism and veganism etc. What do they say about the relationship between humans and nature? How past perceptions of nature have changed e.g. Romanticism, and why has it got more controversial? Religious Concepts of Nature. Why I am looking at religious examples. Different time spans and areas. Primitive v Modern. Religion communicates social norms. Totemism. The religion, the relationship with totems. Different teachings and sacraments. What does this say about the relationship with nature? Paganism. Mother nature, link with eco-feminism. Different beliefs. Relationship with nature. Judeo-Christian beliefs. Patriarchal, anthropocentric, institutionalised. What does this say about the relationship with nature? Religious Conclusion. What do these contrasting religions communicate about man and nature? Comparison of Christianity and Paganism-Mother v Lord. Look at respect for nature in Totemism and compare this to modern Christianity. Is Christianity fundamentally anthropocentric? Dualism, Patriarchy. Ecological effort. Psychological Relationship. Importance of psychology, what can it tell us about our preconceptions of nature? Jung’s Collective Conscious. What is it? Is it plausible that our collective conscious can dictate our relationship to nature? Discussion General psychological opinion. Nativists v empiricists. Psychological Conclusion. What do these arguments infer about humanity’s attitude towards nature? Philosophical Relationship. What can philosophy tell us? Different Arguments. Kant, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Plato. Dualism v Monism. Descartes. Spinoza. What a world view’s impact on the relationship between humanity and nature is. Conclusion. Religion, Psychology, Philosophy and Sociological ⇒ what they infer? Which has the most impact? Why do we have the relationship with nature that we do?

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2003 Abstracts Stage 2

The End of the World. The End of Time

This project illustrates the relationship of humanity to its world, or base foundation and how the concept of time reduces both humanity and its world to finitude. Looking closely at society and our efforts to achieve human immortality through technology, it is obvious that the human being has attempted to pervert the world into its own vehicle but is thwarted by the changing hand of time. This is ultimately the final change.