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2023 Abstracts Stage 3

SCREW MEN? A CRITICAL STUDY INTO THE OVERTURNING OF ROE V. WADE AND THE RESULTING EFFECT IT HAS HAD ON AMERICAN FEMINIST ACTION

On the 22nd of January, 1973, the United States Supreme Court passed a landmark ruling in the form of Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade has correctly been characterised as a fundamental decision, particularly in regards to the ‘right to privacy’ and, on a larger scale, women’s rights as a whole. Brought to the Supreme Court by Norma McCorvery (‘Jane Roe’) and her lawyers in protest against Texas’ abortion laws, Roe v. Wade argued that the current Texan abortion laws were unconstitutional; Texan law, at that time, stated that all abortion was illegal with an exception for actions deemed necessary to save a potential mother’s life. Described by legal journalists such as Linda Greenhouse as a form of judicial activism, the 1973 ruling resulted in not only a new configuration for abortion in the States’ legal field but within its social and political spheres, too. Post Roe v. Wade, these laws alongside many others throughout the country were struck down and replaced with newer and more progressive federal rulings; the ruling given in the 2022 court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation was a complete systematic undoing of this earlier progression towards women’s rights. The decision overturned Roe v. Wade and began a political and cultural deconstruction of respect for women and their autonomy within the United States, upon which many women have begun opting out of heterosexual relationships as a form of self-preservation. This project will seek to examine the effects of overturning such a monumental legal decision, particularly in its applications within the modern feminist movement and the more radical forms of feminism that preceded it. Have the reactions of women in the face of this supposed ‘backwards’ ruling been justified? Is the decision to withdraw compliance and activity within heterosexual relationships personal, political, or a form of more active protest? Drawing on a range of feminist viewpoints and historically relevant events, this project will use the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade as a basis for its examination of female reaction and, more ultimately, its examination of women’s duty to heterosexuality.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

WHERE SHOULD WE STOP OBEYING THE LAW? The Colston Statue and the Limits of Obedience: Revisiting John Locke and John Rawls on Civil Disobedience

This project examines where one should draw the line between obeying and disobeying the law, specifically focusing on the Colston statue controversy in Bristol, UK. It investigates the role of civil disobedience in the removal of the statue. The legitimacy of the actions taken by the Colston Four are considered, who were charged with criminal damage and brought to trial for their role in the statue’s removal. The perspectives of political philosophers John Locke and John Rawls on civil disobedience are utilised, with a view towards how their theories might relate to the Colston statue case.
It also considers the legal framework governing civil disobedience in the UK, examining the Colston Four’s legal defence and the judge’s ruling that they could not rely on a human rights defence. It questions whether the current legal system adequately protects individuals’ rights to civil disobedience and whether greater protections should exist. Ultimately, I argue that the Colston Four’s actions were justified as a form of civil disobedience aimed at rectifying a historical wrong and that the law should allow for greater latitude in cases of civil disobedience where the individual’s actions are aimed at challenging injustice and promoting equality.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Should Criminals be Allowed to Have Children?

A current and stimulating insight into the question of whether criminals should be allowed to have children. With staggering statistics such as ‘online grooming crimes have risen by more than 80% in four years’ (NSPCC, 2022 raising important philosophical questions about whether it would better for society if criminals were prohibited from having children. Understanding the many moral dimensions to such a complex question is key in the debate of whether criminals should be allowed to have children.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Civil Disobedience in the Tik-Tok Generation

In this project, I focused on the overturning of Roe V. Wade, a law which made abortion a constitutional right in all of the American states, which occurred in June 2022 and the resulting reaction of ‘Gen Z’ which was displayed on TikTok. I applied Nietzsche’s understanding of the Master and Slave morality and providing a discussion on how the new TikTok generation can provide a reintroduction of the Master morality to society. Focusing on the Christian moral principles which prevail in US politics and how this allowed the overturning to take place, whilst discussing how those in power maintain a Slave morality. Furthermore, I used Rawls’ understanding of civil disobedience to analyse how TikTok has provided a new platform for ‘Gen Z’ to engage in their own forms of civil disobedience, in response to the Roe V. Wade overturning. I used examples of civil disobedience documented on TikTok in response to the ruling and provided an analysis of their engagement to understand how the impact of their civil disobedience has been amplified as a result of TikTok. Hence, determining that TikTok successfully demonstrates Rawls’ understanding of civil disobedience.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 2

“Genealogy of Power: Tracing the Penal System within Educational Institutions”

This essay explores the genealogy of the penal system as a paradigm for understanding power dynamics within educational institutions, drawing from the philosophical works of Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche. Building on Foucault’s theoretical framework, this investigation delves into the structures of power and discipline, including hierarchical observation and normalising judgement, and their pervasive presence within contemporary educational environments. Nietzsche’s insights from ‘On the Uses and Abuses of History for Life’ and ‘On the Genealogy of Morality’ offer an additional lens to critically appraise the formation and enforcement of norms in these settings. Cinematic representations of these concepts, primarily found in Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If….’ and Peter Weir’s ‘Dead Poets Society’, are analysed to provide tangible illustrations of Foucault’s and Nietzsche’s theories within institutionalised education. The essay demonstrates how, akin to the penal system, educational institutions exercise power, regulate behaviour, and manage deviation, resulting in a profound influence on individual formation and societal coherence. By juxtaposing the penal and educational systems, this analysis highlights the urgency of addressing the inherent power imbalances and restrictive norms within educational institutions to promote more equitable learning environments.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy’s contribution to a potentual reform of the jury system

Within crminal law trial by jury continues to be the “gold standard means of delivering justice” as the combined wisdom of twelve jurors is thought to be able to overcome the challenges of interpreting the facts of the case and evaluating evidence. However, while recent polls have demonstrated the public’s support for this system, cases such as Derek Bentley have, have caused some to question whether this is a reliable or effective way of delivering justice. Therefore, the aim of this project was to consider whether our current jury system ought to be replaced by a judiciary of judged. This essay initially began by demonstrating how applying Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutic model of interpretation could help jurors overcome the challenge of having to reconstruct what happened. Moving on to consider the problem of intent, it examined whether Kant’s deontological ethics could help jurors reconstruct and judge the defendents intetions. The essay then moved onto Hegel’s critique of Kant, before demonstrating how John Austin’s study of excuses could provide a linguistic anlalysis of Hegel’s critique. Finally, it turned to consider Hegel’s theory of action to see whether this theory could provide sufficient guidance on the subject of intent.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

A discussion on how policing by consent operates and the challenges it presents in democratic societes

• The objective of my project is to discuss how policing by consent operates in a democratic society and the consequences to individuals and societies when the boundaries of policing by consent are transcended, particularly when it is believed that excessive and disproportionate force is used.

• The aim of my project is to describe the mechanisms by which policing by consent can be achieved, with the absence of transgression and force, and to also demonstrate the consequences for individuals and societies when this ethos is not embedded in policing practice.

• In order to do this, I am the applying the philosophical concepts of Bourdieu’s study of ‘symbolic power’, Hobbes ‘social contract theory’ and Bauman’s notion of ‘liquid modernity’. This is an important subject because the use of force by legitimate authority in a fair and proportionate manner to uphold laws continues to be relevant and a contentious issue in modern day society.

• Hobbes ‘social contract theory’ describes how we need laws to govern human behaviour and we need state force to ensure compliance with these laws. Hobbes believes man has a desire for security and order to ensure self-preservation with the end goal of avoiding misery and pain, therefore man enters into a social contract where individual rights and liberties are surrendered in exchange for security and peace. This can be applied to the concept of ‘policing by consent’ as it describes how individuals willingly engage in lawful behaviour in order to maintain security and order.
• Bourdieu’s notion of ‘symbolic power’ demonstrates that symbolism in the police is important in generating consent with symbols, such as uniforms, as they reinforce their position of authority in society. The symbolic power of the police evokes feelings of trust and the belief that they have just cause and legitimate authority for upholding the law. The symbolic power the police have can be utilised to generate consent from the public.
• At times the police have to reasonably use a legitimate amount of force to maintain order, however a consequence of this is the risk of the abuse of this force. Therefore, using Bauman’s notion of ‘liquid modernity’ it can be demonstrated that the police’s reputation is volatile, and the police are constantly on trial by the public. The transgression of boundaries of policing by consent can be extremely detrimental to public attitudes on the police.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Assess the impact that Natural Law Theory and Legal Positivism have had on shaping the English Legal System from the 13th Century to Present day

Object/Territory – The concept of Law, how Natural Law Theory and Legal Positivism have shaped the English Legal System
Aim – Through a historical account I aim to provide a historical account of both Natural Law Theory and Legal Positivism in order to assess the impact that they have had on shaping the modern English Legal System
Main Sources – Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Austin, H. L. A Hart

In this essay I shall explore the very concept of law and morality as I look at the very concept of law, morality and how law is applied in order to argue that Natural Law Theory and Legal Positivism are the main driving forces behind the formation of a distinct English Legal System.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

A Fair Trial of Rawls. The sixth Article of the Human Rights Act of 1998 outlines the right to a fair trial in the United Kingdom. To what extent does Rawlsian theory justify the fairness of the trial process?

A fair trial of Rawls.
The right to a fair trial is a human right held by those living in the UK. Rawlsian theory lays claim to the fairness of the criminal trial and insists upon the ability of such a procedure to produce fair outcomes. This is frank account of the reality of criminal trials in the UK, the procedures in place and the extent to which Rawls is able to justify his claims. Individual liberty, amongst other things, appears to be in jeopardy. Will Rawls produce a suitable enough defence to clear his name of all shortcomings?

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Norway’s Halden prison: an argument for rehabilitation

This project’s aim is to explore Norway’s Halden Prison and look at whether or not its ethos of rehabilitation is a success in being the core function of prisons. The three primary texts that I will be using are Michel Foucault’s (2020) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, John Rawls’ Theory of Justice and Thomas Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory, in his Leviathon. I begin by looking at the historical shift of punishment as retribution (punishment of the body) towards punishment as rehabilitation (the reforming of the soul) (Foucault, 2020, p.7). From here, I move onto the two chapters that consist of the bulk of the project, the first focusing on rehabilitation and discussing the tension between whether it benefits the society or the individual. In the second chapter, I look at Foucault and Davis, who are problematising the idea that people are made into becoming a criminal—their problem is that often, ‘criminals’ are not actually ‘criminals’ and often do not need to be rehabilitated or corrected.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Can the common and civil law legal codes be situated within coherent philosophical accounts of judgement and justice and what is the preferable system?

In this project, I explore the contrasting legal systems, common law and civil code and compare them to my two principal philosophers:

– Jean-François Lyotard
– Plato

Additional philosophers I studied:

– Immanuel Kant
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
– Aristotle
– Socrates

The questions I focused on:

• Can we have a politics with or without a true essence of justice?
• Can we judge based on opinion, or based on prior criteria?
• Do legal systems work within situational context or universal formulas?
• What are the philosophical attributes embedded within legal systems?

I essentially wanted to establish the central aspects of the legal systems I am studying regarding how they view judgement. This was examined by determining whether judgement is based on the conformity of statutes and legislations or based on precedent. I determine that the civil law system’s rigid structure gives judges limited say in the outcome of cases as they abide by the law’s statutes. On the other hand, the common law works on precedent, using past cases to determine the conclusion of a case. Additionally, I compared the philosophical attributes of these two legal systems to the two philosophers I studied. I resolved that the common law generally related to Lyotard’s situational school of philosophy; judgement is based case-by-case without regard to prior criteria. Furthermore, Plato’s true essence of justice claims a universalism of judgement which coincides with the civil law system. Concluding, I argue the superiority of Lyotard’s philosophy and the common law system over the contrasting school of philosophy and legal system.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

How inherent racism has manifested itself into the American judicial system

• My project shows the fundamental racism in the American judicial system that mirrors the attitudes of colonial times.
• Primarily using philosopher and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon and his book, The Wretched of the Earth, I show the link between colonial and judicial racism and how prejudice from the past is still alive today, and how this could have happened.
• The wrongful conviction of the ‘Central Park Five’ is my key case study as it reflects the broken system that colonialism upheld.
• I also address other matters of judicial racism in different countries as it is a worldwide problem, with reference to some other philosophical views and relations to Fanon.
• In exposing the issue, I address the changes, Movements, and positive progression that continues to eliminate racism from the world.
• However, I also highlight the remaining systemic and societal racism and how much more needs to be done to cure the sickness that it is.
• I found Fanon’s philosophy truly engaging, the more informed about the horrors and persecution of colonialism I became, the more my interest in its history grew as I still wonder how humanity can be so inhumane.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Is labour used as punishment in private immigration detention justifiable, or is it slavery?

The private prison industry has expanded into immigration detention in return for money and is using the forced labour of their inmates to return a sizeable profit to their shareholders. Is this a justifiable punishment for illegal immigrants making the crossing into the USA, or does it constitute a form of modern-day slavery? This research will determine that through its investigations into deontology, consequentialism, retributivism and anti-foundationalism that the industry is fundamentally founded on concepts that do not relate to justice and so its form of punishment cannot be justified but must rather be considered a form of slavery.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Forgetfulness of Memory: Should memory, as a source of evidence, hold less value within the legal system?

Concept: Memory
Philosophical Thinkers: Locke and Freud
Aims:
1. To highlight the malleability of memory
2. Argue the dangers of using memory as evidence within law- e.i. eye witness testimonies without empirical proof.
3. Analyse true case studies that indicate the ruining of people’s lives due to memory and the manipulation of it.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Fight the Power: An Interrogation of Sovereign Authority

The objective of this project is to investigate the validity of the Grand Jury process in the United States of America, which selects a group of citizens at random to become involved in legal proceedings and make judgements if the suspected criminal should go to court.

The discussion therefore investigates whether it can be justified to give power to individuals in society or if power should remain with the government, or sovereign authority.

The philosophers studied in the process of the dissertation are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Does Technology Merely Distort or Substantially Change Law and Justice?

Does Technology Merely Distort or Substantially Change Law and Justice?

The Media:

Common-held belief was that – because of Simpson’s celebrity- he would not be prosecuted.
Despite the incriminating evidence against him, the public supported Simpson. As noted by Bugliosi, there were “people carrying sings outside the courtroom during the trial declaring “Free OJ” and “Save the Juice”

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Euthanasia:
Technological advancements have made it considerably more comfortable for us to watch someone “slip away”

The Death Penalty:
At this present- day, advancements in the pharmaceutical industry ensure that ‘the shelf life of benzodiazepine’ also plays a role in this process.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Death Penalty – An Inhumane and Degrading Treatment?

Territory: Punishment
Object: Death Penalty

Why this topic?: In my view, the death penalty is an appalling punishment. The whole concept of killing a human being in an inhumane manner to restore ‘justice’ in society because of their wrongdoing, is in my view, utterly absurd. The use of violence is a degrading way of punishing criminals. How can a governmental system that is supposed to promote moral justice kill its own citizens?

Aims of Project:
1) To address the moral question that is associated with the death penalty as a form of legal punishment as the main concern for analysis.
2) Examine rivalry accounts from both a philosophical and political point of view that are either for or against the punishment, and the consequences it would have on the morality of society.
3) Learn about the history of the death penalty in the two Westernised countries: Britain and America, (including its effectiveness)

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2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the law economically or ethically routed? A study into Modern and Ancient Mesopotamian Laws

Objectives: To investigate the degree to which the law is both economically and ethically constituted – To compare and contrast Ancient Mesopotamian law with our own.
Territory: Modern EU law – The Code of Hammurabi (1754 BC) – Ancient Babylon – The Code of Ur-Nammu (2100 BC) – Ancient Sumer ‘ The German Ideology ’ – Marx ‘ Elements of the Philosophy of Right ’ – Hegel

Structure: I will begin by first describing both the Code of Hammurabi and the Code of UrNammu, subsequently contrasting them with Modern law. After this, Marx will be used to argue that the law is economically routed, whilst Hegel to state that it is ethical and has progressed over time. Finally there will be an analysis of the changes made in modern day law, to exhibit the shift away from the financial ‘burdens’ of ethics, in the era of late Capitalism.

“Political Economy regards the proletarian … like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being.” – Karl Marx, 1844

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2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Kant the Interpretation of Andrei Tarkovsky

Objectives: To investigate the degree to which the law is both economically and ethically constituted – To compare and contrast Ancient Mesopotamian law with our own.
Territory: Modern EU law – The Code of Hammurabi (1754 BC) – Ancient Babylon – The Code of Ur-Nammu (2100 BC) – Ancient Sumer ‘ The German Ideology ’ – Marx ‘ Elements of the Philosophy of Right ’ – Hegel

Structure: I will begin by first describing both the Code of Hammurabi and the Code of UrNammu, subsequently contrasting them with Modern law. After this, Marx will be used to argue that the law is economically routed, whilst Hegel to state that it is ethical and has progressed over time. Finally there will be an analysis of the changes made in modern day law, to exhibit the shift away from the financial ‘burdens’ of ethics, in the era of late Capitalism.

“Political Economy regards the proletarian … like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being.” – Karl Marx, 1844

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

How Can We Learn from the Holocaust? A critical evaluation of the pedagogic value of responses to the Holocaust and art in law.

Artistic responses:

Adorno: didactic art and mass culture. Holocaust art has the ability to misrepresent victims’ experiences, undermining the pedagogic value of art. Mass culture threatens society’s understanding of the Holocaust by dictating standardized moral messages to its audience.

Schindler’s List is an example of Holocaust art that is not appropriate for education because it dictates a moral message through in scenes of gratuitous violence.

Maus consistently reminds the reader of the dangers of misrepresentation in Holocaust art and does not dictate a message, allowing readers to critically engage with the subject matter and form their own opinions. It is educational without being didactic.

Legal responses:

Holocaust denial: Irving v. Lipstadt set the precedent for how liberal societies can maintain their commitment to free speech whilst protecting the collective memory of the Holocaust from deniers.

Who’s accountable? Society must accept that strategic reasoning pioneered by modernity contributed to the implementation of the Final Solution, rather than assigning Germany sole accountability.

The trial of Adolf Eichmann highlights that individuals have a duty to humanity above the need to follow the orders of their government.Artistic responses:

Adorno: didactic art and mass culture. Holocaust art has the ability to misrepresent victims’ experiences, undermining the pedagogic value of art. Mass culture threatens society’s understanding of the Holocaust by dictating standardized moral messages to its audience.

Schindler’s List is an example of Holocaust art that is not appropriate for education because it dictates a moral message through in scenes of gratuitous violence.

Maus consistently reminds the reader of the dangers of misrepresentation in Holocaust art and does not dictate a message, allowing readers to critically engage with the subject matter and form their own opinions. It is educational without being didactic.

Legal responses:

Holocaust denial: Irving v. Lipstadt set the precedent for how liberal societies can maintain their commitment to free speech whilst protecting the collective memory of the Holocaust from deniers.

Who’s accountable? Society must accept that strategic reasoning pioneered by modernity contributed to the implementation of the Final Solution, rather than assigning Germany sole accountability.

The trial of Adolf Eichmann highlights that individuals have a duty to humanity above the need to follow the orders of their government.