2023 Abstracts Stage 2

If there is a necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then whose duty is it?

In this project, I will assess the extent of the necessity to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on a practical level. Our duty is our moral or legal responsibility to do something. In this case, our duty is to reduce the emissions of GHGs that are contributing to the global warming effect. This effect is causing climate change, which has negative global impacts. I will provide philosophical claims from a number of philosophers namely Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. I will also offer my own insights in conjunction with this.

The object I will be discussing is the reduction of GHG emissions. I will consider this from a wide perspective from international and national authorities to businesses as well as on an individual level. My territory is questioning the extent and type of duty that these different groups have in order to combat the impacts of increasing GHG emissions. I hope this project will provide a unique angle for philosophically assessing how the approach to sustainability and climate change prevention varies on a wide scope. There is an expanding need for lawful duty to reduce GHGs due to ongoing inaction, although this is difficult to implement internationally without being vague due to the varying social and economic conditions of countries across the globe. I will conclude that we have a collective moral duty to reduce our GHG emissions.

2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Subverting Expectation: Analysing, evaluating and applying Nietzsche’s concept of the as Übermensch as Challenge to Morality  

The question of how to live is an area of great contestation for humanity. Nietzsche, in disavowing morality of the Christian world, saw the higher kind of human, the Übermensch, as the only way to affirm ourselves, following the disbelief in God. Applying the concept of the Übermensch to other literary figures like Achebe’s Okonkwo and Camus’ Meursault, as well as looking at Han’s diagnosis of the contemporary times, I assess how well a guide Nietzsche’s Übermensch serves, both now and then.

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 3

Exploring mathematics’ fundamental flaw: can analytical and moral philosophy be utilised to reform our understanding of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem as an example of self-reference paradoxes within mathematics?

Piercing a hole through the foundation of mathematics, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem resides outside the scope of consistency, provability, and solvability. A mathematical manifestation of self-referential paradoxes, the doctrine shattered the possibility of sustaining a complete system within mathematics, as Gödel utilised arithmetic itself to convey that there will always be axiomatic statements within mathematics that cannot be proved with certainty. However, in pursuit of clarity, can the philosophical attribution of morality and analytics be utilised to elevate an understanding of the paradoxical theorem? With both enterprises positing an abstract delineation of how truth and falsity are classified, the anomalous nature of the Incompleteness Theorem perhaps necessitates similar ascription. Whilst it is essential to note that the profundity of mathematical inquiry eradicates the possibility of the paradox being ‘solved’, the attribution of philosophy can perhaps offer avenues of illuminating novel aspects of the theorem. In doing so, the findings can be strung away from pessimism and towards mere curiosity. Mathematics may be defined by its incompleteness, but can philosophy offer an elevated insight that transcends an understanding beyond the mathematical enterprise?

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.

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the concept of moral development considered a key factor within the field of education or is its importance misunderstood?

Moral development is a highly important factor within childhood and adolescence and requires intense focus and interest in order to produce a well-rounded, virtuous adult in later life who knows how to properly differentiate between good and bad and right and wrong. However, the source of this focus and interest is key to the outcome. During childhood, a large proportion of time is spent in education meaning most of the interactions children have come from academic professionals and their peers, meaning this is where they will effectively develop their morals and virtues, but is there a risk mainstream education will prioritise academic education instead of the pastoral side?

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Is war entirely immoral?

War has very distinct and polarising effects on people and does not have to look far to gauge a common consensus on how negatively it can be viewed, because of its destructive, chaotic, and immoral nature. Very few people have been prepared to argue that war is morally desirable, so the question central to this investigation will query whether war can be seen viewed as something beyond purely immoral, and beyond the initial preconceptions, so that we might perhaps view it in a way that enlightens us, and is productive to us. The investigation is split into 4 sections.
– ‘War should obviously be morally wrong.’
Why do we think war is wrong? Are our assumptions based on dogmatic tendencies?
– ‘Is Killing wrong, and should it be wrong within warfare?’
Using Immanuel Kant’s universalising imperative, I will suggest it is wrong to kill, however, I will engage with an understanding of self- defence in war, arguing that scenarios such as war create a problem for these initial assumptions.
– ‘Why do we go to war?’
What reasons can we provide for going to war? Can we justify it?
I aim to introduce Hegel’s historicism, exploring the ‘purifying’ ontogenetic capacities of war (war might be required to achieve peace and stability in the first place), and Machiavelli’s pluralism, to provide a different interpretation that a leader who is governing and conducting warfare should not consider ethics at all.
– ‘The Nuclear Age: Do we need to reconsider the ethics of war?’
Informally referred to in my investigation as “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, I will bring everything together with consideration to growing temporary warfare to revaluate our understanding of morality; technology and the advent of possible nuclear destruction change ethics?

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Can powerful nations act morally in the face of Coronavirus?

A philosophical investigation in the response carried out by the USA, the UK & New Zealand against Coronavirus

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

What is the most morally acceptable and workable solution, regarding the method of imprisonment as a means of punishment?

What is the most morally acceptable and workable solution, regarding the method of imprisonment as a means of punishment?

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

A collapse of morality in Nazi Germany

This is an analysis of the collapse in morality that was seen throughout Germany in the 1940s under Nazi rule. I have taken the perspective of looking at Nazi evil through the actions of Josef Mengele throughout his time at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. Throughout my dissertation, I have explained exactly what it is that Mengele, nicknamed the Angel of Death, is renowned for; essentially beginning with his passion for eugenics – the beginning of his Nazi career at least

The barbarity of his actions is something that is analysed throughout my dissertation using Hannah Arendt’s report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann to evaluate the gravity of Mengele’s attitude and by extension the actions of leading Nazi superiors; for though I have focused on some of Mengele’s actions more specifically, I mean the purpose of this to be ultimately reflective of all Nazi figures that held any part in the systematic persecution and murder of millions of European Jews in the 1940s.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

An Exploration of Hannah Arendt’s thought on Evil

Object and Territory:

The object I will be examining is banal evil in Hannah Arendt’s book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil.

I will explore banal evil in relation to its relevance to the modern day and the extent of its importance in revolutionising thought on evil

How – I am analysing Arendt’s thought on evil to gain an understanding of the characteristics involved in the phenomenon of the banality of evil

Why – I am exploring Arendt’s thought on evil in order to be able to apply it to our contemporary society

Main Thinkers and their works:

Hannah Arendt – Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil and The Origins of Totalitarianism

Susan Neiman – “Banality Reconsidered”

María Lara – Narrating Evil

Richard Bernstein – “Are Arendt’s Reflections on Evil Still Relevant?”

2018 Abstracts Stage 2

‘Can a person be born truly evil?’ An analysis of the origin and concept of innate and acquired knowledge, morality and evil in human nature.

Project objectives and aims:
• To critically analyse the debate between rationalists and empiricists in accordance with the origin of knowledge, morality and evil, with reference to innate ideas and knowledge acquired through experience.
• Establish which arguments presented by the scholars prove most convincing as to whether a person is inherently evil or if this is learnt from experience of a person’s upbringing.
• Generate a deeper understanding into the concepts and notions that surround mankind’s nature.

What I hope to receive from the dissertation:
• I hope to develop my research and analysis skills by using a variety of sources from scholars that range from early Greek philosophy, to the enlightenment era and contemporary twenty- first century thinkers.

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)

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Can agents be considered accountable for their actions when following the orders of an authoritative figure?

This project discusses the impact of authority on moral responsibility, and whether the autonomy and free will of an agent is required in order to enforce responsibility and punishment.

While Nietzsche sceptically denounced the genealogy of morality as an institution which instils guilt and punishment, he relented to admit that despite its insufferable origins, morality is nevertheless invaluable in understanding cultures and ideologies. The doctrines of John Martin Fischer conversely maintained the position that an agent must necessarily be morally responsible for the actions they committed, even under circumstances wherein the agent may feel as though their judgement was clouded by the coercive force of an authoritative figure, which made it seem as though the actions were not the agent’s own.

Nevertheless, it has been recognised in case studies spanning over the last 100 years, such as The Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, the 1963 Milgram Behavioural Study of Obedience and the 1971 Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment, that there is always an alternative possibility to the course of action taken by an agent, and that the action is always necessarily an agent’s own. In such case studies which discuss the impact of authority, other questions have been raised as to whether passivity in these examples is the true evil, or whether there lies within mankind an innate capacity for evil and sinister acts which inflict harm upon his fellow man.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Societies that permit conscientious objection are morally superior to those which will not

Claim: Countries which permit conscientious objection are morally superior to those which do not

Aim: to establish if the needs of the of the state should ever outweigh citizens rights

Case Study: I will examine the case of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector in the second world war, and apply him to the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Rawls and Lukes.

Philosophers: Kant, Hegel, Rawls, Lukes

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Are humans destined to conform to evil?

Philip Zimbardo and the Stanford Prison Experiment

Participants were assigned either the role of guard or prisoner in a prion simulation designed to investigate the behavioural and psychological effects of prison life. From that moment they were treated according to their role and the study commenced. Rebellion, excessive punishment and a mass escape plot.

The findings showed that the guards and prisoners conformed wholly to their assigned role to the point where role and reality were blurred. The participants had lost all sense of reality . Why did this happen? Does it say something about an inherent human nature to conform?

Hannah Arendt and the Banality of Evil: Arendt claims that evil can occur when someone simply follows orders to the point that they no longer have their own thought process. They become a cog in a well oiled machine. She basis this theory on the trial of the Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, who she claims was not an inherently evil man but someone who “simply followed orders”. What does this mean for moral culpability? Does this change our understanding of human nature?

2015 Abstracts Stage 3

Is the paradox between an authored narrative and player choice responsible for the illusion of internal justification in video games? A look into narrative and player agency, given the circumstances of the relationship between ‘winnable’ video games and the identity we attribute to ourselves as players – with reference to Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami.

I aim to explore the concept of how we act morally in videogames and what motivates us to do so. I chose to use this game, Hotline Miami, a top-down, two-dimensional pastiche of ultra-violence, stealth and surreal story-telling, played from a canvas of 80s synth subculture particularly notable in the soundtrack and visuals. It is a neo-noir crime drama blearily glimpsed through a psychedelic haze, which follows the nameless protagonist the player controls. It is comprised of numerous chapters, most of which begin with the nameless protagonist waking up in his apartment and being tasked to complete a certain amount of massacres against an unspecific criminal organization at the behest of your answering machine. As hallucinations and reality become increasingly impossible to differentiate, moments of lucidity where you are given the opportunity to reflect on your actions become disturbingly non-existent.

In my project, I want to investigate whether the concept of player choice holds any value and if a video game can provide the territory for a meaning philosophical investigation today. With the factor of responsibility and authored narrative surrounding us, are we able to resist and rationally control our enjoyment of a game wherein you are tasked with committing immoral acts? The philosophers I will use are: Paul Ricoeur and his mimetic narrative of culture and Slovaj Zizek and his views on personal identity in the artistic video gaming world.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Morality and Suicide. Is suicide every morally permissible?

For centuries philosophers have attempted to understand the moral issues surrounding suicide and discover whether there is any objective standard by which we can truly know whether the act of suicide is a violation of our moral duties.
“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says, “and that is suicide.

Aquinas, Kant and Hume all offer interesting arguments surrounding this moral issue. Whilst Aquinas looks at suicide from a purely theological perspective, Hume saw traditional attitudes toward suicide as muddled and superstitious; paving the way for a very modern outlook that suggests there is no rational basis for this and we can never object to suicide. Kant in contrast places significant emphasis on suicide as a violation of our personal autonomy and freedom.

Does suicide violate our duties towards God?
As reason gradually became predominant in moral discourse after the 18th Century, suicide was soon to be seen as less sinful and more rational.

Does suicide violate our duties towards society?
Whilst the law and popular practice in the middles ages sanctioned the confiscation of individual property and the denial of a Christian burial, we now regard it as a highly personal matter, rather than disturbing public order.

Does suicide violate our natural duties of self-preservation?
It is argued from a theological and a secular perspective that we have a duty to ourselves not to commit suicide as it violates our human freedom and autonomy. However we must understand that in many cases our emotions come before reason.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

Am I Not a Man and a Brother? The Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade: Great Britain’s Campaign for Human Equality

Can slavery be morally justified?
 Aristotle: Humans are not equal due to differing reasoning abilities. Slaves do not have a sufficient capacity to reason to warrant freedom. Slavery is in the best interest of the slave, the master and the polis.
 Augustine: Slavery is a form of punishment for original sin. Moral virtue can be increased as a result of being a slave to the body rather than to desires. God will reward slaves in heaven.
 Kant: All humans are equal. Slavery cannot be universalized without contradiction and treats humans as means to an end, thus it is immoral.

The importance of political freedom:
 Isaiah Berlin: The amount that society can interfere with an individual’s freedom depends on the natural rights theory of that society. Laws must conflict with a person’s natural rights to justify protest.
 Rawls: All humans have an equal claim to basic liberty and rights. Freedom is an inalienable basic right that slavery infringes upon.
Methods of political protest employed by abolitionists.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Is Man Beast? Does Instinct Exist in Human Beings? Are We as Different from Animals as We Have Been Led to Believe?

Human Nature vs. Animal Nature
Does Instinct exist in Human beings? Are we as different from animals as we have been led to believe?
“If man has no instincts, all comparison with animals must be irrelevant.” – Midgley

Does EVIL exist in nature? Are humans in denial about the fact that they may well be the most dangerous beasts of them all? We have much to learn from the animal kingdom… Is wickedness an unavoidable element of human nature?

Mary Midgley (1919-) Beast and Man
W.H. Thorpe (19021986) Animal Nature and Human Nature
Sigmund Freud (18561939) The Ego and The Id
John Locke (1632-1704) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding