2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Dadaism Anti-Art?

The internationally revolutionary art movement Dadaism changed what we constitute as art to this day. Fundamentally a form of protest art, it has deep philosophical roots. In my project I will investigate Dadaism and what the artists stood for.

Albert Camus famously wrote about the concept of the absurd; Dada was a chaotic mix of nonsense, humour and nihilism – just how important is art in our ill-fated world?

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgement pens what should constitute fine art – does this notion apply to the unrestrained world of the Dadaists?

Finally, I will use Nietzsche’s early and middle period writings to analyse the importance of art and culture in our society – is culture an illusion, and what is the importance of art in our lives?

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

The Wolf of Wall Street

Project Aims:
•To distinguish the moral issues within the life story of Jordan Belfort and explore whether the initial presumption that he is solely to blame for such actions is completely accurate.
•Can philosophers such as Nietzsche explain such actions through their own reasoning and logic about how people operate?
•Can a true objective answer be found for such moral dilemmas or is it too subjective to conclude with one judgement?
•Assessing the overlooked factors that aren’t so apparent when first understanding Belfort’s past.

•Apollonian vs. Dionysian: Nietzsche’s division between the two realms of approaching the world. A good combination of both will help you lead a sustained lifestyle, whereas if you fall too deep into either you risk becoming ‘too boring’ or ‘out of control’. Throughout the study of Belfort’s life this concept is very applicable because he certainly experiences the description of both realms and consequentially allows the Dionysian to be the downfall of his reign.

•Cultural Relativism and how it can help people to understand the differences between certain environments and how such external influences play a vital role when making such moral judgements.

•Immanuel Kant’s absolute laws on ethics. On principles such as: “Do not use people as a means to an end” he would not condone Belfort’s actions.

•Friedrich Nietzsche’s study into Epistemology and how the process of receiving and using knowledge infringes our own free will.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Can American Foreign Policy Between 1945 and 1989 Be Explained? Understanding the Role of Philosophy in International Relations Theory

This paper locates the origins of international relations theory in the philosophical tradition.

By exploring these foundations I develop a complex understanding of the content, qualities and development of IR theory.

This enquiry is designed in order to demonstrate the following claim: that in order for philosophy to remain a valuable discipline it must adapt.

Over the course of the paper a number of thinkers are referenced: Hobbes, Kant and Hume are primary focuses.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

“The Moment You Are Old Enough to Take the Wheel, Responsibility Lies with You” – J.K. Rowling. Is This Always the Case?

This project sets out to examine the concept of responsibility with particular reference to the way in which certain individuals behave. It is perhaps a common assumption that we are all responsible for our own actions, however, this can be difficult to justify if an individual’s actions are out of character or unusual. Furthermore different situations may influence how we act and how we view our responsibility. Using pertinent case studies to provide examples, the intention is to analyse and synthesise factors that can be said to influence behaviour and impact on responsibility. Following on from this the philosophical thoughts of Kant, Foucault and Lyotard will be examined in an attempt to reach an understanding as to whether moral responsibility stems from what is within us or the environment in which we live.

Immanuel Kant –
1785 Grounding for the metaphysic of morals
1788 Critique of practical reason
1797 The metaphysics of morals

Michael Foucault –
1975 Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
1982 The Subject and Power
1954-1984 Power

Jean-Francis Lyotard –
1962 Dead Letter
1984 The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

MI5: Applicability in a Democratic Society

My project is based on an examination into the role and appropriateness of MI5 in light of the perceived democratic value of an individual’s right to privacy, which MI5 necessarily violate for the sake of national security.

My question is whether MI5 is justified in its approach to violate an individual‘s right to privacy, thereby determining its applicability within a democratic society.

I intend to investigate this applicability with respect to the concepts of secrecy, security, and privacy rights. From this, I will establish the condition that we implicitly agree to neglect the transparency of MI5’s operation for the preservation of national security, that through accountability provided by the government will uphold one’s rights to privacy as far as possible. However, we can never guarantee that MI5 do not unlawfully violate one’s rights to privacy. Therefore, through a philosophical investigation of:

1) Kant’s public and private reason, universal principle of Right, external freedom, and the necessity of coercion from authority;
2) Hegel’s conception of the ethical life, citizens disposition to trust the state, freedom between the suffusion of the objective and subjective wills;
3) Marx’s ideological critique, commodification of intelligence, and questioning to what extent individual rights exist; I will deduce to what extent such a condition can be affirmed, thereby determining the applicability of MI5 within a democratic society.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side? A Look into Marriage and Infidelity, in Reference to Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut

I aim to explore the concept of how we act morally in marriage and what motivates us to do so. I chose to use this film as my object, as in the film, the character of the ‘wife’, Alice, is honest about her psychological desires for other men and claims she believed herself incapable of controlling this desire and that it was only though accidental luck that it did not happen. However, the ‘husband’, Bill, claims that he simply does not fulfil the desires he has for other women out of consideration for Alice and out of respect for the commitments made in their marriage.

In my project, I want to investigate whether the concept of marriage holds any value and if a faithful, monogamous relationship is possible in our modern society today. With the factor of temptations surrounding us, are we able to resist and rationally control our inclinations of overwhelming desires and manipulate our will in order to follow the duties inherent in marriage. The philosophers I will use are: Immanuel Kant and his duty based ethics, Soren Kierkegaard and his views on marriage and St Thomas Aquinas relating to lust as a sin.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

“The News We Kept to Ourselves”. Can the Media Ever be Justified in Withholding Information?

This project is an investigation into when, if ever the media can be justified in WITHHOLDING INFORMATION. This is a question PECULIAR TO OUR TIME, given the fact that the press now possesses MORE FREEDOM than ever before. The implications of the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, the recent PHONE HACKING SCANDAL and the 2011 controversy over the use of SUPER INJUNCTIONS all mean that what the media should do has become TOPIC OF CONSTANT DEBATE. I examined the ethical thought of both DEONTOLOGICAL and CONSEQUENTIALIST thinkers. KANT’S answer seems to be that media deception CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED under any circumstances, on the basis that it will always involve treating someone as the MEANS TO AN END. The UTILITARIAN argument is more forgiving and can justify a lie of omission in some circumstances. These two answers CONTRADICT each other. As such, I moved on to a more MODERN ANSWER, in the form of FOUCAULT and argued that a newspaper can be considered a discourse and as such, can set its OWN STANDARDS OF TRUTH.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

What is True Beauty and How Does the Media Effect this View?

What is beauty in today’s society? Beauty should not be based purely on physical attributes. Essentially, my project argues that the media is wrong for constantly portraying unattainable body images of young men and women. The media persistently tells us what we should wear, how we should look, what size we should be; giving us a normative dimension that is not beauty as a fact, but as a value; something we want it to be.

We need to set ourselves free from the media’s conception of beauty and perfection. We need to use our philosophy to understand and discover what beauty really is; for it is more than what we presented in the media. If we disregard the media’s perfectionist views on beauty, we will be happier. A better understanding of what beauty is can liberate us from the obligation to look ‘perfect’. In the same way that when I do not believe in God, the Priest ceases to have power over me; when I do not believe in the media’s representation of beauty, the images cease to have power over me.

I aim to conclude my project firstly by agreeing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I certainly agree that beauty can be many different things to many different people. I shall use Plato, Kant and Hume to support my view.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

“WikiLeaks could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act” (Time Magazine). … Truth or Fallacy?

This project was an exploration into the effect of WikiLeaks on our society, weighing up the benefits and disadvantages in order to come to a rational conclusion about the function of WikiLeaks and how freedom of speech and expression can be justifiably curtailed by the government. The philosophers I included were John Stuart Mill, I looked at his work in On Liberty surrounding his argument for freedom of expression regulated by the Harm Principle and also Immanuel Kant’s work in Critique of Pure Reason, where he gives his argument for the existence of the public sphere of discussion and just how important this is to society. Both advocate free speech in society, however both also give justifiable reasons for limiting it some extent. Mill gives a consequentialist theory based upon his Utilitarianism and Kant gives a duty based response.

I also looked at what different types of speech should be regulated, i.e. hate speech, controversial political parties such as the BNP and the benefits we experience through giving these extremists a platform of free speech. To give a comparison between the restrictions we face here in the UK I looked at Chinese censorship and how the dictatorial regime interferes in every aspect of Chinese open discussion, to remind us that this is not what we want to slide into.

– John Stuart Mill
– Immanuel Kant

Main Points
– Freedom of speech – to what extent do we have this right? If at all, when can this be rightfully curtailed? Why is it so important to protect?
– Freedom of media and press – censorship, Wikileaks’ effect on society
– Government control and interference – why should the government be allowed to control our access to information? What are the benefits of a limited government with free sphere for expression?

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

An Attempted Analysis of the Rationality of Ted Bundy

My Project is based upon the serial killer Ted Bundy who murdered and raped at least 30 women.

The initial preconception is that there is something ‘evil’ about Bundy.

My aim is to look beyond these initial preconceived ideas and understand the mind of Bundy by focusing on his rationality.

The philosophical concepts I will use include:

Freud’s notion of the unconscious: Investigating Bundy’s childhood in relation to the Oedipus complex. Looking at the Id, Ego, and Superego and the possible variations in neurosis and psychosis.

Kantian rationality: Transcendental rationality in the moral law vs. Instrumental rationality in the sensible world. The need for duty as opposed to inclinations. The Categorical Imperative vs. The Hypothetical Imperative and the notion of Radical Evil.

Durkheim’s social thesis: The need for serial killing in deviant behaviour. The Division of Labour on modern society. The impact of capitalism on the rise of serial killing and the concept of organic solidarity.

Each theory will give a different perspective determining to what extent Bundy is rational; the inference of this will be an evaluation of whether the initial preconceived ideas of Bundy being ‘evil’ is credible.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

The Morality Behind WikiLeaks: is WikiLeaks Endangering Society or Saving it from Corruption?

Aim: To determine the morality behind WikiLeaks with reference to both Kant and Mill.

•WikiLeaks aims to publish secret, confidential and classified material so it becomes freely available to the public. Julian Assange, the key spokesperson, believes that WikiLeaks will help create a freer, less corrupted world.

•Mill believed no opinion should be silenced. In order to gain a true opinion of something it is necessary to know all the facts. Therefore Mill would have been pro WikiLeaks as long as the information released posed no legitimate harm to society.

•Kant argued that publicity is required in order to have peace within a society. No information should be kept secret as this involves lying and prevents individuals from understanding their situation. According to the categorical imperative lying is always wrong. Kant would have strongly supported WikiLeaks.

With regards to Mill, I will focus mainly on his text On Liberty. I will analyse Kant’s texts The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and Perpetual Peace. I will use various internet sources and secondary texts in order to gain the greatest understanding of my concept and territory.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Prison and Punishment in Scandinavia, UK and America: Kantian Retribution versus Utilitarianism

• Kant’s theory of punishment is based on desert and not about consequences. It insists on retribution. (Kant, Groundwork)
• Utilitarianism appeals to consequences, hence reparation programmes and deterrence. Yet if a severe crime creates greater consequences then it should be carried out regardless of desert. (Mill, Utilitarianism)

• America demonstrates a penal system of harsh retributive punishment and also harsh utilitarian forms of punishment. (Death penalty, 3 strikes)
• Scandinavia utilitarian in its aims of reparation and prevention
• UK show like America a combination yet is more focussed on probation programmes than America.

Project Aims 
– To outline the differences in penal systems in Scandinavia, UK and America 
– To demonstrate the effectiveness of various forms of punishment. 
– To demonstrate how these countries’ penal systems reflect Kantian retribution and utilitarianism 
– To critically compare these approaches

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Falling Asleep Consciously – a Quest for the Truth

The subconscious mind stores vast amounts of information on what we have experienced in our lives. When in a lucid state, a dreamer becomes aware that he is dreaming. In this state he has greater access to his subconscious. Is it possible to understand our waking reality more clearly, by harnessing our subconscious memories?

To explore this idea, I am, primarily, going to be focusing my discussion around the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, namely his works on knowledge and reality, with the psychology of Stephan La Berge, including his work on lucid dreaming.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Alienation. A Catalyst for Two Great Men

The picture that…….. …….changed a life

The Brechtian Theatre presents;
The Political Ideology of Karl Marx
Starring: Karl Marx and full supporting cast including Hegel & Kant, Engels, Sartre and Marcuse

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Cooking an Art According to Kant’s Aesthetic?

My project is an investigation into gastronomy. My aim is to investigate whether cooking is regarded as an art or a craft or even maybe both. My territory is looking at two famous British chef’s Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver. My philosophical concept is going to be using Kant’s aesthetic judgement from his third critique.

According to Kant art cannot be part of an aesthetic judgement, however there is a sense of ambiguity when it comes to the ideas behind Blumenthal’s molecular gastronomy. What is the difference between the two chefs? Why can one make it more acceptable for gastronomy to become close to an aesthetic experience?

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Can the Practical Application of Reason Generate a Utopia?

Inspired by the 1980’s setting of Alan Moore’s epic superhero tale, Watchmen, we consider reason and its practical application for the purposes of generating an ideal society. How ideal do we find such a setting? Has utopia been achieved? And if not, what hinders such progress? We centre on Kant’s philosophy which considers the realisation of Utopic conditions via applied rational thought, contrasted to Hobbes who considers the nature of man before rational application. Furthermore, if utopia is desirable, what would be the means to achieve such? To consider such we turn to the Utilitarian actions of Ozymandias!

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

How has the Rise in Technology Changed the Way we View the Human Environment and Human Identity?

TERRITORY: West Ham United. AIM: In my investigation I wanted to see how the rise of technology has affected the human environment and identity. As a keen West Ham supporter I thought this would be an interesting place to start. From its humble origins as an amateur club to the rise of its top premiership I assumed this community has been subject to a lot of technological modifications over the years. Method: I examined how the club has changed from over 50 years ago in order to see the affect technological advancements have had with regards to the club; satellite television, the internet and advanced forms of transport illustrated how the human environment has turned into a global network. I also wanted to see how this has affected the players of West Ham United in order to see if the human subject has changed. After establishing this I could then see which philosophical theories were relevant to the past and present eras of West Ham United. I considered Kant’s theory of knowledge which places the rational human subject above the causal necessity of reality. This notion seemed to express how the individual in West Ham (the footballer and manager) related to the club in the past. I then decided to look at postmodern ideas on reality and the human subject. It expressed a more complex view of reality where the individual’s autonomy is undermined as man is unable to establish what is image and what is reality. I believed this expressed the organisation of West Ham and how the footballer relates to his environment in contemporary times. After examining both these attitudes I could then draw some conclusions about how we must view our human environment and human identity.

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Carrying the Burden: what Motivates People to Help Others?

Object: Surrogacy. Territory: Human Motivations. Why do surrogates bear children for other women? Is it due to the desire to help childless couples, or is it for financial compensation? Is this an important distinction?  
Philosophical Theories: 
• Mill’s Utilitarianism: Is human motivation important if  the greatest good for the greatest number is achieved?   
• Kant Theory of Moral Motivation: One must act  according to duty. One should not be acting for reward  or merit.   
• MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals: It is not possible to differentiate between altruistic and  egotistical acts. The family bond is greater than any  other motivation. 
Conclusion:  It is not possible to provide a  theory to explain all human  motivation. Every human is different and therefore every motivation must be viewed independently.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Art a Result of the Effects of Culture or is it Entirely Free Expression?

Do events in society affect artists in such a way that it is clearly reflected in their work, or is their work completely individual? In my project I look at the Abstract Expressionist movement, in particular Jackson Pollock. My main focus is the effect WW2 had on Artists in America and how Abstract Expressionism emerged as a result of it. I look into the government funding behind the movement and the postwar mood of society. Jackson Pollock is an interesting focus point because not only was he an alcoholic who suffered from depression but his art works, particularly his drip‐paintings, were extremely emotional and well documented. I centre my attention on the drip‐painting era because they demonstrate his connection with his art, his technique was controversial and the result seemed thoughtless and chaotic to some critics. To establish what is to be considered aesthetically pleasing, I will be looking at Kant, this covers how we perceive things as human beings and how our desires and preferences affect what we consider to be beautiful. To explore this idea I am going to focus on Kant’s concept of beauty, where he believes what we perceive as beauty, can be nothing other than subjective because it is the individual’s taste. In essence my project analyses art aesthetically, from both the artist and the people’s point of view. The influences surrounding artists at the time shows how art can be an inevitable result of mass emotion and therefore its popularity does not relate to how aesthetically pleasing it is.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Problematic Case of Alchemy: Science or Superstition?

The project is driven by the intuition that in the modern age there is a conflict between science and religion. This conflict/ value distinction is proved problematic; in which domain does alchemy lie? Context: Alchemy as a historically changing concept. Thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Kuhn. Change/ Contrast: Historical contrast between our views/ intuitions of alchemy, science and religion respectively; from the Ancient world view, to the Enlightenment and the Modern age. – Why is there a value distinction between the two? Alchemy defies this hierarchy. – Can science and religion reconcile their positions?