2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mental Health Development and the Problematic Debate Surrounding it

Public health is widely regarded as one of the most important societal and medical objectives, yet what constitutes health? While on the surface this may appear to be a simple question with a straightforward response, there is no universal consensus. Considering there is no universal accepted definition of health, how does health manifest itself in reality?
Recent years have seen an increase of awareness being paid to mental health, and it appears reasonable to conclude that this will result in positive outcomes. Although this may be true, this paper contends debates on mental health development are unlikely to produce solutions. This is due to the fact that most western societies adhere to a doctrine of morality known as emotivism.
As a first step, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of two definitions of health. Since there is no universal consensus on the definition of health, this becomes problematic in the mental health debate. Referencing MacIntyre, the second section of this paper will argue that the existing moral language has been fragmented and essentially lost, thereby rendering moral claims arbitrary in nature. The notion of human flourishing will be discussed in the middle of the paper in order to develop, not only debates on mental health but, the mental health of the collective. Next, it will challenge thinkers like Kant, Hume, and Pascal who reject the teleological aspect of human nature. Additionally, this paper presents MacIntyre’s reformulation of Aristotle’s notion of human flourishing in modern terms, introducing three aspects, namely, the concept of practice, the narrative unity of human life, and a living tradition.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

The Difference Between the Ancient and the Contemporary Hero: What The Hero Can Say About Society and The Human Character

The concept of the hero is one that has been debated and discussed sociologically, historically, and even psychologically but not so much philosophically. There is not one singular definition of a hero yet the concept can impart extraordinary knowledge of the wider world and how it has changed, as well as highlight the notable development of the concept of the self throughout the years. The interdependent relationship between the hero and the society can tell us a lot about human nature. Through looking at two antithetical heroes – an Ancient Tragic Hero and a Contemporary Superhero – and the differences between them I have investigated the idea of selfhood and how that has completely changed, alongside how society reflects this relationship. I have used Aristotle’s Poetics and MacIntyre’s After Virtue to analyse in what ways the concept of the hero can teach us these things. It seems as if the self has become something distinct, and that in contemporary society we become who we are through our actions and how we behave, in contrast to the ancients who act and behave in the way they do because of who they are. There are these crucial elements of fate and choice which highlight the complete change in the hero. Through this contemporary understanding, it seems as though it does not make sense to think of morality solely in terms of action and theory but rather in virtue and practice too. Humanity has developed to a point where we should be looking at morality in terms of character, actions, and society in a unified manner rather than just in the actions themselves.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Miscarriages of Justice: A Philosophical Investigation into the Media, and their effect upon the Judiciary System in accordance with specific cases of Violence

Contemporary treatment of specific crimes (miscarriages of justice) reveals that early forms of vendetta are still present in our supposedly rational society, which may therefore result in the destabilisation of hierarchical power relations. The project uses the subsequent cases; the Birmingham Six (1974-75), the Guildford Four (1975), and the Maguire Seven (1976), to highlight how such a system of our judiciary systems’ necessity to our society can fail. The project uses MacIntyre’s philosophy, regarding narrative alongside Poyser’s academics, to suggest that through improved case narratives due to media involvement, the judiciary system is provided with the opportunity to resurrect their mistakes and in doing so improve the structural innerworkings of society. Further philosophical analysis of the media’s narrative regarding MacIntyre perhaps reveals how the victims are condemned due to how they have been treated by the judiciary system and the miscarriage of justice that they been involved. In thinking about one’s selfhood in terms of narrative, it is possible to review how the victim’s lives are changed for the worse due to their mistreatment. Moreover, use of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right feasibly aids the removal of historical discordancy around the concept of justice, which in doing so provides a clearer understanding of how violence in the form of terror and vendetta still become pertinent issues for our society. Hence, the project sets itself to reviewing the claim that contemporary treatment of specific crimes in the form of miscarriages of justice may in fact provoke the destabilisation of hierarchical powers such as our judiciary system due to the presence of repeated acts of violence in the form of terror and vendetta.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

An Exploration of the Philosophical Implications of Social Media and Online Identity Profile Building on the Formation of Identity and Selfhood

Identity will be considered in terms of the construction process and the impact that social media and the online community can have on this process in accordance with the theories listed

MacIntyre-Narrative Embedding through a socio-historical understanding. Tradition is thus key.. Dangers arise in consideration of the anonymity of the internet and fantasy of online environment distracting from this.

Giddens-Acknowledgment of importance of social background. self as a reflexive process.. Is it possible that the world of social media and online profile building provides guidance now? Does this then promote cultural relativism

Habermas -Theory of Communicative Action and Discourse Ethics. Reason amongst humans is considered to not be based in objective terms. Discussion key to understanding the self. But necessitate compliance the Rules of Discourse .

Trilling- Differentiation between Sincerity and Authenticity. Rejection of sincerity as only the role of the actor for the gratification of others.. Does the online identity building epidemic loose this authenticity and re-establish the pressure of those forming their identities in the realm of sincerity. The formatting of stating elements of our identity independently and publicly creates sincerity hoops.

Borgmann-Recognition of the role social media in modernity and the advent of Hyper-reality as a result. We become overly connected and this results in irrational behaviour and affections. We only end up disappointed at the lack of fulfilment of this strange unreal reality.

Dreyfus- Online identity formation and Social Media exist in a risk free environment. This can cause issues with personhood through desire to exist in a simulated environment and never transcend to interpersonal relationships in reality.

Risk and Potential Difficulties- Risks exist in the realms of the vulnerability of the unestablished self. This is via the advent of social consensus and a lack of objective rationality, the potential of manipulation in unequal partners, loss of interpersonal communication and inability to create relationships

There is a requirement for the self to be established prior to online engagement and necessity of return to Trilling’s Sincerity as the resulting conclusion and means from which the identity can benefit from Social Media.

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Discussions on the nature of the animal liberation movement – can animal and human exist as equals and does the real possibility of a consensus in the debate exist?

The animal liberation movement was the first movement to be entirely founded by philosophers, and ended up being one of the most important and controversial movements in society then and now. Using the thought of Peter Singer within Animal Liberation and Alasdair MacIntyre within Dependent Rational Animals, among others, my essay aims to assess whether their theories seem intuitionally correct and/or comfortable, and if we can observe what their ideas describe in contemporary society with regard to our relationship with animals. I also take a look at the differences between UK legislation concerning animal welfare and that of other countries, attempting to conclude if the animal rights debate can ever be solved, and how indeed the world should go about doing so.

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.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

After Modernity – Colliding Dialects or Voices in Chorus?

The aim of this project is to understand UK hip-hop as a form of cultural expression through a comparison with British folk-revival. Both can be understood as rejections of modernity. Central concepts for discussion will be: tradition and community individuality and novelty, modernism and postmodernism. For an understanding of folk-revival and tradition, I will examine Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. MacIntyre’s conception of tradition and virtue ethics will be compared with Nietzsche and the ethics of postmodernism or late capitalism.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Disability. Is the way we Treat Disabled People Today Right?

Territory: Disability. Object: The treatment of disabled people. Concepts: Equality, Dependence. Change: Treatment of disabled people over time. Thinkers: Singer, MacIntyre. Questions I am going to consider: • The idea of ‘normality’, and whether a disabled person can constitute a ‘normal person’. • The idea of inclusion and whether disabled people can be considered to be included as normal members of our society. • Both of these things, normality and inclusion, relate to the concept of equality. Are disabled people equals to people without disabilities? • Is the language used in reference to disabled people appropriate or could it be improved upon? • How much does independence matter to a disabled person? Should they have greater independence despite their limitations? Sources: • ‘The Disability Reader’, edited by Tom Shakespeare, 1998, Continuum • ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’, Jean-Dominique Bauby, 2008, Harper Perennial • ‘Practical Ethics’, Peter Singer, 1993, Cambridge University Press • ‘Rational Dependent Animals, Alasdair MacIntyre, 1999, Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Why Value Community?

Territory: The ‘Byker Wall (1973-1978). Constructed by Ralph Erskine in the 1970’s this remarkable As an example of social housing, does not only highlight innovation of modern urban design but was the first in the UK to be a joint project between architecture and the people of the community, and has often be hailed as Newcastle’s best kept secret. The harshness of the exterior is purposely so to protect the flats and houses from the north wind and the noise of traffic. The uniqueness of the design is that the wall actually ‘turns’ in on itself with the interior being the all important feature. Object: In 1953 Byker had 1,200 dwelling unfit for human habitation, meaning a clearance of the area and a planned re-development. What is off significant is that 80% of the residents wanted to stay. Why? There were high crime rates, poor housing and a high density of population. What the residents did value was the community spirit of Byker, the working-class community with its social bonds, shared value and family ties. Along with Newcastle city council it became important for that to be retained. This was the first time that community had been recognised as something intrinsically valued within itself, this led to the appointment of architect Ralph Erskine known for his humane and climate conscious urban designs, together they created a Byker for Byker people. Objectives: – To investigate through the philosophical discourse of Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) how we value the traditional concept of community within our contemporary society. – Does community shape our identity? – Are we being deceived by modern morality and virtues? – If so, how is it possible to extradite ourselves from that? – Universalism vs. Particularism – Is the liberal democratic method of the industrialised west our only option? – Will individualism finally result in our own isolation?