2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Are the ethics instilled within the current film ratings still attainable within our modern society? A historical insight into the progression of the rating system and the ethics applied within it

The aim of my project is to provide a historical exploration in the change of films rating system from its first code, The Hays Code, to the current classification of film ratings. In order to do this I will need to understand the ethics implemented in its change and then comment as to whether I believe it to be viable in modern society. Specifically looking at the notion of the Spectacle as a critique.

Key thinkers involved within my project will include John Stuart Mill, Jeremey Bentham. I will specifically take from their works the key idea of the Harm Principle and Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus. An interpretive analysis of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle will help answer whether the ethics within film ratings is sustainable in modern society.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

“I Predict a Riot”. What Was the Mentality of Those Behind the Summer Riots and Were Their Actions Legitimate or Simply Acts of Hooliganism?

In August 2011, England experienced its ‘most serious bout of civil unrest in a generation’, for most the riots were a clear indication of the deepening problem of broken Britain. The majority of people could not understand and were left deeply bewildered at the shocking behaviour exhibited and total disregard shown for the law, 59% were unemployed and 50% were under 18.

– In this project one of my fundamental aims is to assess whether the motives behind the riots were legitimate or as David Cameron described acts of ‘mindless criminality’ 
– Did the participants wish to change the political system? Were they just fed up of being ignored? Or did people just follow the masses and joined in because everybody else was like a ‘domino effect’ 
– I will also research the validity of rioting itself and distinguish between violent and non-violent protest and research whether non-violent protest can significantly change a system or is just witnessed and ignored.

Thomas Hobbes- Concentrates on the individual’s pleasure. However emphasised the importance of a state, as there would be anarchy without one.

John Stuart Mill- Uses Utilitarianism as a foundation (pleasing the majority) Also focused on the individual, pleasure alone motivates us

Thomas Aquinas- Just War theory ‘last resort’, has to be appropriate motives

Emile Durkheim- Sociologist witnessed social disunity. Offered theory of Social Integration.

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

What is the Appeal of Intoxication Through Drug Use and is Society Right to Condemn It?

My project is an investigation into the ETHICS OF DRUG USE.

I used questionnaires and surveys done in the last 4 years on young people and most particularly, CLUBBERS. My empirical research showed me that the WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST, as almost 2 MILLION people use illegal substances EVERY MONTH.

I found that the EFFECTS OF DRUGS are EXAGGERATED in the media to support the SOCIAL ATTITUDE OF CONDEMNATION. I presented the arguments that DAVID HUSAK, a legal philosopher, puts forward as to why DRUGS SHOULD BE LEGALISED.

I explored the MOTIVATION BEHIND DRUG USE and concluded that for most, recreational drug use consists of a HEDONISTIC SEARCH FOR PLEASURE.

I used MILL’S HARM PRINCIPLE to explain why he might not condemn drug use, since in itself, it does not harm others and also looked into his ATTITUDE TO ALCOHOL. I also looked into a possible UTILITARIAN COUNTER ARGUMENT.

GUY DEBORD and the SITUATIONISTS help us to understand the CONDEMNATION of drug use by the MEDIA.

My most interesting CONCLUSION is that while we permit the consumption of alcohol, we must also PERMIT DRUG USE.

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

Is Depression a Disease and/or a Philosophical Undertaking?

Depression is often negatively viewed by society. I aim to assess whether it is accurate that we simply class depression as a medical mental disorder or whether it should be given a new definition that gives depression a positive outlook. Depression can allow the suffering individual to undertake a philosophical journey where they are able to question, analyse and possibly reassess their lives and morals.

Questioning whether depression is just a disease or a philosophical undertaking (or both) is contemporarily relevant and relevant in history for it has affected some great thinkers who have gone on to produce major works, such as John Stuart Mill’s ‘On liberty’ that was written out of his depression, that have helped form modern society. When I question whether depression is a philosophical undertaking, what I mean by this is whether a depression can promote types of innovative thoughts (political, social and individual thoughts) that can be acted upon or written about that would not have occurred in a person who has not suffered a period of depression, like a ‘phoenix from the flame’. It is relevant to study due to the increase of diagnosed sufferers and the effects it can have on the individual and on society. I want to assess what depression is, whether it can produce innovation within the individual and, if it does cause innovative genius, whether it should, in some cases, be encouraged.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Nature vs Nurture. Why do Serial Killers Kill?

Can a serial killer ever be moral or good? What leads someone to kill repeatedly? Is it a genetic fault or the result of a neglected childhood?

In this project I have chosen to explore the illustrious philosophical debate of Nature vs Nurture in the context of serial killers. I want to better understand how the mind of a killer works and come to a strong supposition of whether of not it is something that they innately possess within their minds, a ‘killing gene’ or whether their behaviour is a result of the evils of society and an unkempt upbringing. On a philosophical front I am going to explore Free will and Determinism, Hobbes and Mill’s Direct and Indirect Obligation and Kant’s Intuitionism and Moral Conscience.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

The Punishment of a Serial Killer. Is Utility Morality?

CONCEPT: The mind behind serial murder and the influence of mental illness on our judgement of correct punishment.

PHILOSOPHY: Mill’s Utilitarianism and Mill’s Speech in Favour of Capital Punishment; exploring contradictions, claims of morality and the influence of human nature.

SOURCES: newspaper reports, true story based films along with texts on Capital Punishment by Hodgkinson and Schabas and secondary texts on utilitarianism such as Utilitarian ethics by A. Quinton.

It was the relationship between mental illness and crimes of murder that first inspired my investigation into the punishment of a serial killer. I began to question what evidence of mental illness meant for the responsibility of the crime and how the law ought to respond to this. My initial intuition is that regardless of this, murder rates MUST be reduced, and so the introduction of a harsher punishment is necessary. Although, I am aware this causes problems when bringing up any causes that may have influenced the murder.

My aim is to use various reactions to the controversial issue of the death penalty to construct whether it is right to make judgements and decisions based purely on the ‘utility’ of the outcome.

Our reasons for and against capital punishment may not have an outcome of utility in mind but purely ‘what is right’. As well as the mental state of the criminal, many of us cannot but care for the right to life of the criminal, even for he who commits the worst crime imagin

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Conjoined Twins: If a woman is knowingly pregnant with conjoined twins, is it a fairer act to abort them rather than to carry on with her pregnancy, due to the quality of life they will experience?

This year I used the topic conjoined twins in my project. I was inspired to do so after watching a channel four documentary, ‘Bodyshock: The twins who share a brain’. This featured two sets of female craniopagis (joined by the head) twins one pair 48 years older than their junior. After realising the presence of lots of sets of conjoined twins alive today I began to query far reaching questions about the nature of their life. I used these girls as empirical research and included lots of quotes from interviews with 49 year old Schappell twins Reba and Lori in order to help me answer the question above. I also read their biography, and several books about conjoined twins in general and especially their sociological transition through history.

I also used philosophy and practically applied the notion of aborting conjoined twins, to the theories of two philosophers John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. For Mill the abortion would be acceptable according to his hedonistic greatest number principle. I argued using quotes from Mill’s work that he would opt for them to be aborted since they would inflict various levels of pain upon all those involved. Kant would not accept their abortion, he would see it as a virtue of their mother not to do this, and sees abortion in general as a non-universalizable maxim. In order to do this I read several books on the philosophers some are listed below. I then explained in my own words what each of the philosophers would say about this issue. I started my project by thinking that the quality of lives of twins eternally joined together would be very low, but by the end of the project I had completely changed my mind. I learned that conjoined twins do not mind (even favour) their situation, possibly because it is all they have known. All the evidence I found showed them stating emphatically that they would not wish for separation even if it was possible. They claimed not feeling a sense of unwillingly feeling trapped to another person as I imagined. They have also found a purpose and place among society in the twenty first century in a way that they did not in the eighteenth as were forced to join the freak show. Therefore I agreed with Mill over Kant but for different reasons and in my conclusion I argued their case using evidence of the excellent life quality conjoined twins have experienced in the past.

Dreger, A. (2004) One of us, Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal. Harvard University Press, London.

Mill, J S. (2001) Utilitarianism. Hackett Publishing Company, United States of America.

Guyer, P. (2006) Kant. Routledge Publishing, Abingdon.

Face to Face: The Schappell Twins (2000 United States of America) Television Broadcast. Ellen Weissbrod. New York, A&E Television Networks. Documentary and Living channel, 05/01/2000 8pm, Series 2 Episode, 3.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Journalism Ethics: Integrity in Reporting

• Key concept: the invasion of individual’s privacy in relation to public interest
• Do journalists always have the sole intention of providing us with the truth?
• Do they pursue the truth by the right means for the right reasons?

• Mill’s Harm Principle
• Pragmatism as a theory of truth
• Correspondence Theory of Truth
• Kant’s Moral Philosophy: Obligation

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Should the Advertising of Alcoholic Products Be Restricted?

In my project I am going to be focusing on advertising of Alcohol in our current society and its positive and negative effects.

By looking at how the negative health effect of smoking changed the advertising of cigarettes I will relate this to what we already know about alcohol and its damaging attributes both physically and mentally, and assess if the advertising of alcohol needs to change.

It is arguable that because alcohol is a legal product then it should be legal to advertise.

However, the same can be said for cigarettes but because of the clear connection between cancer and cigarettes.

Clearly a total ban on alcohol advertising would be detrimental to individual brands of alcohol, but possibly not on the general sale of alcohol.

The main arguments against alcohol advertising suggest they increase sales in existing drinkers and provoke new young drinkers.

Cheap accessible alcohol promotes anti-social behaviour and heavy drinking which can lead to alcoholism and depression in later life, as well as various health issues.

Essentially, advertising of alcohol legitimates excessive use of a potentially damaging product.

To establish if it is right to ban alcohol or an infringement of our liberty I will be looking at Bentham and Mill’s concept of welfare. A vitally important question for Mill is what are: “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by the society over the individual’ (L.1.1)

I aim to establish whether the health effects of alcohol are reason enough to ban the advertising of it.

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.

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 3

Nursing Ethics: the Changing Role of the Nurse

Territory: Nursing. Object: The role of the nurse. Concepts: Informed Consent, Paternalism, Autonomy Change: The role of the nurse over time. Thinkers: Kant, Mill, O’Neill, Foucault, Gadamer. Questions I am going to Consider: Does the paternalistic role doctors and other medical professionals used to take have any ethical basis? Is the more recent move towards advocacy and partnership more ethical? Should informed consent be compulsory in every situation? Which is more important: autonomy or welfare? Sources: Mill, J.S., On Liberty, 1903, London: Longmans, Green and Co.; Gadamer, H-G., Truth and Method, 1975, London: Continuum; Gillon, R., Philosophical Medical Ethics, 1985, Chichester: Wiley; Fairbairn, G. and S. (ed.), Ethical Issues in Caring, 1988, Aldershot: Gower Publishing Company Ltd.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Addiction …. Mill and Bataille

My territory is addiction; I chose addiction as it is a contemporary issue of concern today! I have examined most areas of addiction, such as; Drug/ alcohol abuse, gambling, sex and eating disorders. Essentially it is not about what addiction one has; rather why one is addicted in the first place. Thus, I have explored contemporary answers. The two concepts of Philosophy I have  chosen are that of Mill and Bataille. 

Bataille is related to my topic of addiction because he blames Society!!! Due to the Rise of Capitalism All time is spent on useful means leaving no  time for useless expenditure…addiction is a way of escaping  this monotonous regimented lifestyle!!! 

The methodology: The method I have used throughout my project is the hermeneutic interpretive, as I attained all my information from books and the internet.

Mill is associated with my territory because his philosophy is based on Hedonism: Addiction is based on pleasure and addicts do it to release pain. This is also following Mill’s principle of Utilitarianism. Also, I have explored Mill’s work on education; his basic doctrine related to addiction would be that a good education from a young age would prevent behaviours like addiction occurring. He distinguishes higher and lower pleasures, higher pleasures being things such as; theatre and literature. Thus an alternative for addiction, for Mill, could be through art.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

The Commodification of Education: who Cares about Society?

The aim of this project was to investigate the changes within schools over the last forty years and evaluate them within Mill’s utilitarian theory. I found that the education system has become controlled by central government, who use schools as a training ground to promote future economic growth.This could then be evaluated within the Situationist philosophy of the commodification of society. I found that schools are a means of keeping students as the Proletariat class in order to function an ever growing economy for the Bourgeois. The morality of this needs to be considered in terms of what we deem the human function to be. If we accept our society as it is, in its commodified state then we must assume under Mill’s theory that the changes are ethical. For Mill something is ethical if it promotes the greatest amount of happiness throughout society. In a commodified society we seek to maximise economic productivity in order to for further development and hence making society more commodified, and so the changes would be ethical under Mill’s theory. If however we feel we should teach for education’s own sake and for long term societal values then the changes would have to be rejected as unethical.

2006 Abstracts Stage 2


Can one consider the ethical viewpoint of both sides of terrorism? If terrorists believe their actions cause the greater overall good, would J.S. Mill condone them? Can the media be held responsible for the growth in terrorism? The growth in the media is consistent with the growth of terrorism, is this significant? The intention of terrorists is to reach a wide audience, does the media aid them in achieving their ends? What implications would censoring the media cause for us? Could it be considered to limit our freedom?