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.

2022 Abstracts Stage 3


Modern liberal democracies are often assumed to operate in accordance with an unobjectionable neutrality with respect to the various worldviews of their citizens. By examining the work of Locke and Rawls, I demonstrate that even the most sophisticated conceptions of society and secularity rely on value-judgements that are asserted by the state on behalf of its citizens. The aspirational target of value-neutrality held by the liberal democracy is thus shown to be unattainable.

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
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.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Essence of Masculinity and its Presentation in Film

Essentialism is a widely debated facet of philosophy, often focused on the role of women in society. However, not often is research concerned with the role of masculinity within essentialism. To see the effect of and on social influence I will be reflecting the concepts of masculinity and essentialism onto film. This is not previously reflected upon categories, and overall the way that feminism can reflect onto masculinity is something that can be helpful to both genders. I will approach this question through an analysis of the films Billy Elliot (2000) and Dead Poets Society (1989) as a microcosmic story of society’s values. These films will enable me to see complete storylines. Also, I will refer to The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Goldfinger (1964), and Skyfall (2012), from the Bond franchise as influential storylines for the viewer. It will be approached under the guise of three methodologies, analytic, interpretive, and historical. Between these, I will proficiently examine the argument of essentialism, the idea of masculinity in relation to this, and finally, the way film can illuminate the way we view masculinity. This will be with specific reference to Diana Fuss’ book Essentially Speaking (1989) to frame the essentialism argument; also using Andrea Waling’s discourse around ‘toxic’ and ‘healthy’ masculinities. The addition of Locke’s idea of ‘nominal’ versus ‘real’ essence and Luce Irigaray’s input on feminism of difference all integrate to form a coherent basis from which to analyse and interpret the selection of films and draw conclusions. The concluding finding is that film is an integral lens through which we can view society and the demonization of femininity that evolves from the negative masculinity we continue to idealise. This is important to explore as previously the literature has fallen short of showing the practical ends film can lead to, and the importance of delineating the way we view essence even if it is a foundational part of knowledge.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Corrosive Social Effects of Greed with Reference to There Will Be Blood.

This project will endeavour to explore the corrosive social effects of greed and capitalism. The territory is the subject of capitalism as a political and economic system as presented throughout history and also currently. The 2007 film There Will Be Blood (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) is my object through which I shall spring the discussion of my project from, exploring the questions throughout and what they mean for us. I am using the works of John Locke (primarily his Second Treatise of Government) and Karl Marx (primarily his Philosophic and Economic Manuscripts of 1844). Locke explores the human right of private property and how one rightly comes to have ownership, and Marx explores the disproportionate and devastating relationship between capitalist and labourer and how such a relationship and work brings about alienation and estrangement from labour for the labourer. I shall compare the two philosophic ideas of Locke and Marx with reference to There Will Be Blood.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Rise of artificial intelligence and it’s implications for the constitution of personhood

My Territory: The territory of my essay is artificial intelligence; I will be looking at the progress it has made in the past decade, as well as the controversy it has sparked as a result.

My Object: My object is Sophia, a humanoid robot created in 2017 by Hanson Robotics Limited.

My Concepts: The main concepts I will be using in my project are: Human being, Personhood, Personal Identity, Persistence, Self-Ownership and Recognition

Philosophical Thinkers: The first philosopher I will be using to look at my territory is John Locke. I will be using his Essay on Human Understanding II, concentrating on his views on Personal identity. The second is Frederich Hegel; I will be looking at his Phenomenology of Spirit, particularly the sections on his theory of Recognition.

Main objective: I want to see if we would ever consider granting artificial intelligence the same rights as humans; to do so, I will be trying to find the necessary and sufficient conditions of personhood, and applying them.

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Can Claims to Property Ground Territorial Expansion?

Aim: To investigate whether claims to property can legitimise territorial expansion.

Case study: Throughout the essay I will focus upon he colonisation of America, with the aim of concluding whether the desire for land, held by the colonial power, could be used to legitimise the events that took place.

Philosophers: Locke, Nozick, Hobbes, Hegel, Radin, Grotius

– To investigate the concept of property amongst native Americans.
– To assess whether the European powers had any legitimate claim to the land.
– Can the colonial power’s desire for property ever legitimise the events that took place?

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

What Is the Working Relationship Between the Concept of Consent and the Mechanism of Democracy? A Case Study on the Legitimacy of the House of Lords

This project aims to explore the concept of consent and the mechanism of democracy. With such similar theoretical credentials, it is often assumed that their practical compatibility is a naturally harmonious one. However, the fact that both ideas cover similar territory means that a zero-sum relationship between the ideas obliges particular models of consent to correspond to particular versions of democracy. A case study on the House of Lords and plans to reform the second chamber provides interesting material for discussion. The discussion observes the House of Lords’ alternative claim to democratic credentials and how the basis for consent must adopt a hypothetical character in order to accommodate this changed relationship between the state and its citizenry.

The project includes:
•a preliminary outline of the heritage of the question; political legitimacy and political obligation
•a presentation of the evolution of consent
•a case study
the House of Lords profile
the problem
the House of Lords defence
•a discussion engaging the political philosophical concepts with the case study

Locke’s understanding of consent helps to provide a paradigmatic definition of consent from which to refer to as the concept changes dynamics under different modes of democracy.
Lord Grenfell engages with Fabienne Peter, author of Stanford Encyclopedia entry “Political Legitimacy” in his defence of the political legitimacy of the House of Lords. He lays claim to a hypothetical version of consent and a democratic character which is both procedural and concerned for outcomes.
Parkinson recognises deliberative democracy as a suitable account of the House of Lords’ efforts to maintain a rational and informed approach to decision making.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

How Legitimate is Industrial Action and What is its Purpose?

I have looked at KARL MARX and his theory to try and decide whether strike action is legitimate and what purpose it plays.

Marx would have supported the miners’ strike and seen it as legitimate as it was the working class seizing the means of production. However he would not see the teachers strike as legitimate as it was too individualistic and too led by capitalist values.

Within my project I have focused on how legitimate strike action is. It seems that public perception had changed in the last 30 years and I have endeavoured to uncover why this is.

Despite feeling that industrial action is legitimate I found it difficult to show this in regards to the teachers strike … but it just feels somehow wrong.

The other philosopher I have focused on within my project is JOHN LOCKE. He again would see the miners’ strike as legitimate as their rights were being threatened and therefore it was their duty to show discontent for this. After all, we only enter into a society to have our natural rights protected. Yet, Locke was unable to justify the teachers strike.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Silent Woman. A Philosophical Study into the Relative Equality Between Men and Women from the 18th Century to the Present Day

The traditional application of philosophy is intrinsically tied to a set of values, methods and self definitions which excluded women. Because philosophical works attributed to women have been devalued and therefore not included in recognized works, the traditional history of philosophy is a history of men’s ideas. Womanless history, however, is a distortion of the past which serves to justify the status quo, women philosophers are challenging mainstream philosophy to cease evaluating itself according to the standards set by men.

The aim of my investigation is to determine whether Feminism would ever have been necessary if the philosophical works of women were given any credit. I intend to look into the social theories of Rousseau, Locke and Hume. These thinkers preached the idea of equality, yet is there any correlation in the fact when writing of the collective they term it ‘man’? I intend to study the role of women and how if any Feminism has altered this view.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Who am I? The Problem with Personhood

What happens when personhood is threatened by a disease such as Dementia? In this project I intend to examine what exactly determines personhood, identity and the self in the elderly when threatened by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. How can attitudes and care make a difference in our consideration of what exactly it means to be a person? Philosophy offers an account of personhood that science cannot entirely explain. Using thinkers such as Locke and Damasio this project will look at some of the prevailing theories of identity in dementia and what steps we can take to preserve personhood.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Do we Need to Wake up? The Individual and the American Dream

TERRITORY: The American Dream. CONCEPTS: The Individual Vs Society, Equality Happiness and Fulfilment, Freedom. PHILOSOPHICAL THINKERS/TEXTS: Rousseau: and his theory of the social contract- The individual vs Society & Equality. John Locke: The 2 Treatises of Government. The natural rights of men and Government- Equality and the individual and society. Mill & Bentham: The theory of Utilitarianism and what it means to be happy for society and the individual. Problems? Is the American dream just a myth? Can society and individual peacefully co-exist? Are all people truly equal in their attempt to obtain their American dream?

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Capitalist Hong Kong – Model or Threat to China?

Project Territory: China and its special administrative region, Hong Kong. Areas of Investigation: One country – two systems – to try to preserve the economic and political strengths that Hong Kong had built up and to maintain its capitalist free market, Hong Kong was offered the option of setting up a ‘one country, two systems’ policy – giving Hong Kong a great degree of autonomy from China. Capitalist paradise, communist paradise? Capitalism in Hong Kong has developed since the Second World War, and the region is now known to be a leading example of a laissez-faire capitalist economy. Attracting mainland Chinese and expatriates from afar, Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs over the last few decades have made extreme achievements. In opposition to Hong Kong’s capitalism, China’s Communist Party is the world’s largest political party. After the ‘May Fourth’ anti-imperialist movement in 1919, Marxist ideas began diffusing throughout China. Today though, the question that has to be asked is whether China is now a communist, socialist, nationalist or even capitalist society. Western Hong Kong, Eastern China. China has been much longer in development than Hong Kong has if the start of Hong Kong’s true development is considered to have begun only when the British gained control of it. Before this time, Hong Kong was, compared to the size of China, an insignificant port on China’s South coast. It can be said then, that Hong Kong has a more Western development behind it, while China, obviously had an Eastern viewpoint behind its development. Philosophical Ideas: John Locke – liberalism in relation to Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ method of government. Karl Marx – capitalism and communism, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The Communist Manifesto in relation to the governing principles of China. Max Weber – Weber’s connection between religion and economics and a brief look at his discussion of an ideal type of capitalism. Guy Debord – modern lives being invaded by the ‘spectacle’ and our passivity towards our own existences. This is related to China’s lack of freedom of speech and no free press forcing passivity onto the Chinese population. Conclusion: Hong Kong took risks – risks that worked to Hong Kong’s advantage – however, as the term ‘risk’ suggests, Hong Kong’s actions could just have easily made the region head down another road completely. Today, Hong Kong is not taking risks, but under the risk of China’s influence. Is Hong Kong a model or a threat to China? – The question may have to be reversed to China – model or threat to Hong Kong?

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Childhood to Adulthood – A Philosophical exploration of being change, development and education

My Territory – 2 students from different backgrounds. Their opinions, beliefs and desires from work and diaries in their youth to their opinions now. My aims to explore the philosophy of childhood. What is it to be a child are they merely developing organisms as Aristotle may say -”underdeveloped human organisms”. The philosophers I am using: Aristotle change and causation, Plato education is relearning, Descartes and Locke on the development of cognitive thought, Sarte on Being

2002 Abstracts Stage 2

Which Freedom?

Whether its freedom based on John Locke’s natural justice, reflected in Goya’s work, or Sartre’s existentialist and progressive notions, evident in Picasso’s work, the Modern period has done much to influence the contemporary concept of what it is to be free. Both artists were Spanish and these works portray the violent political turbulence of their times. Locke theorised that the state played a major role in determining an individual’s freedom and hence put forward a theory for the reformation of the legal system, as a means of according the ordinary man with freedom. This concept culminated in the theory of natural justice, which formed the basis for the civil rights movement and ultimately the contemporary English legal system. Underlying Locke’s theory was a Modernist faith in reason and the drive for progress. The modern individual was actively involved in this progress and was more reasoned in their judgement of the world. Early Modernity brought a greater emphasis on reason in all aspects of life and freedom was achieved through rationality, as the rational man was free to determine his will. Goya clearly demonstrates such values in his work. He was progressive, both in his technique and in his subject matter. Ordinary people became the subject, reflecting Locke’s conviction in their importance and, as is evident, the way politics affects their basic liberties. Which Freedom? Towards the end of the nineteenth century there was a shift in thinking which rejected some of Modernity’s earlier values, this mood was lead by Sartre and captured by Picasso. Sartre probably captured the general mood of High modernity with his existential theory. He did not believe that there was a fixed universal nature of man like Locke therefore man must decide his own nature and existence-how he lives. Man may feel some angst at the responsibility of freedom but we must make a conscious choice to create meaning for our lives and as there is no universally morality then our decisions take on a greater significance. The only foundation for human values is human freedom and absolute freedom constitutes absolute responsibility. Picasso reflected such tendencies, towards the individual’s mind and the deconstruction of previous theories, through his highly progressive work. He focused on representing the feeling that his subject gave him, as opposed to the reality, like Goya, whilst deconstructing the form. The liberty Picasso utilised in his work is, perhaps, the ultimate proof of Modernity’s contribution to individual freedom.