Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

“Kill Me and Save Yourself!” How Friendship Affects Morality

Aims
In my project I will discuss how the relationship between friends affects our ability to make objective moral decisions. In doing so I hope to clarify some of the philosophical positions on friendship and assess my own views philosophically in order to attain whether moral theories should devote specific attention to this idea.

Object
The object for my project is the documentary film “Touching the Void”. This film tells the story of two friends who set out to climb the previously un-summited west face of “Siula Grande” in the Peruvian mountains. In doing so both friends were plunged into a life and death struggle and one was forced to make an arduous decision to end his friend’s life.

Territory
The philosophers I will use in my project are;
• Aristotle, who writes explicitly on the conditions of complete friendship in his book
“Nicomachean Ethics”
• Hegel, most importantly his concept of recognition and how that is affected by
friendship and how this in turn affects his moral theory
• Hobbes, the idea of rational egoism and how friendship is affected by this

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 2

The Genetic Prison: an Exploration of the Predetermined Nature of Man

Territory: I used DNA as my territory exploring the role that the genetic code has in the predetermination of humans and if there is the possibility of freedom within these constraints. Aims: The main aim of this project was to explore to what extent human beings are predetermined through their genetic codes. I was concerned with the idea that through the development of the scientific rationale in modern society, any understanding of freedom and autonomy that we had, did not belong with modern thought. Through exploration of the understanding that genetics have the possibility of predetermination, I was able to draw comparison between genetic inheritance and the theory of the eternal return. Through this comparison I was able to examine the possibility that we could break free from the determination of our genes and the cycle of repetition that we find ourselves in. It seems important for me to recognise that it was not only through our genetic make-up that we are predetermined, but that we are also greatly influenced by the world around us, and the society in which we live. We are influenced not only internally by our genes, but by all that surrounds us, adding to the idea that we are predetermined. This led me to question if it was at all possible for us to have freedom and negate that which influences us to allow us any sort of autonomy. The idea that humans are predetermined has major implications for moral responsibility. This is because the theory of predetermination seems incompatible with the idea of moral responsibility. If we are determined to act in a certain way then we cannot surely be held accountable because we did not choose to behave in such a way. I aimed to explore the idea that if we are to be accountable it is necessary for us to have some freedom, or at least the ability to gain autonomy. Philosophers: Predominantly I used the writings of Nietzsche, with particular interest to his theories on the concept of the eternal return. When looking at genetic determinism I compared his ideas with those of Dawkins and Matt Ridley. Through exploring the idea of predetermination through society I examined the writings of Locke with particular interest to his understanding of the Tabula Rasa and looked at how Nietzsche’s ideas related to this. Finally as I examined the implications of predetermination on moral accountability I looked towards the ideas of Durkheim, who saw man as being moral through his participation in society. I also looked at the work of Kant and his idea of transcendental freedom and morality through duty, once again comparing both thinkers with Nietzsche’s ideas.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Fairy Tales: the Moral Implications we Teach our Children

SHOULD WE AS ADULTS STILL FIND MERIT IN THE MORAL LESSONS FOUND IN FAIRY TALES? KANT: The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales also coincided with the rise of Kantian thought, which taught us of the autonomous self. Anderson had switched the audience of fairy tales from both adults and children to just children. At the same time, Immanuel Kant was writing to argue for the autonomy of rational agents. The co-incision of the two shows a relationship that I shall investigate as it seems to be more than a coincidence that the two coincide. HAPPILY EVER AFTER? We have seen that the ethical value of fairy tales can either be embraced or dismissed depending upon which theory of morality you decide to follow, however is there anything else fairy tales can teach us? One of the most valuable things that fairy tales in their original form gave their audience was hope. MACINTYRE: One person in particular who would not agree with Kant’s opinion is Alisdair MacIntyre. MacIntyre’s theory of ethics and morality focuses on what is virtuous. ‘Virtue ethics’ is a type of moral philosophy that centres around a person’s character rather than rules or consequences. MacIntyre felt that the language and concepts of modern ethical theory are inappropriate as modern ethics are fragmented from so many different traditions or theories. A fairy tale is a piece of fiction that usually features characters found in folklore such as witches, trolls, fairies, and ogres. The phrase is also used as an adjective to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, for example, a fairy tale ending or fairy tale romance. But because not all fairy tales, especially in their original translation, necessarily end happily, it has also come to be used to refer to any far-fetched story, which may or may not include actual fairies. It is also worth noting that originally, fairy tales were told for the entertainment of adults as well as children.

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Offensive Humour and the Limits of Comedy

Territory – Comedy. Object – Offensive Humour. Concepts – Ethics, Liberty, Utilitarianism. Thinkers – Mill, Freud, Bakhtin. The Two Ways In Which Humour Can Be Evaluated: The aesthetical question concerns when it is fitting to laugh at something, and the ethical question, when is it morally wrong to laugh at something. For example if you claim that you should not laugh at sexist jokes, then in the aesthetic sense that means sexist jokes lack the features that something must have in order to be funny. If someone is amused by these jokes, then in this sense there has been an error of judgement, it’s not that they have done anything morally wrong, rather these kind of jokes fail as comedy. The ethical question, on the other hand, identifies something as morally wrong to laugh at. Linked to this is Ronald De Sousa’s account of how humour works. He claims that in order to be amused by something we have to endorse the attitudes of it. To take the previous example, according to him, some of us will find sexist jokes funny whereas others will not, the difference is in whether you support those attitudes. Therefore it would become immoral to be amused by this type of joke since to find it humorous is to be sexist. Main Objective: I intend to make a study into the area of humour, focusing upon looking into ethics surrounding amusement and attempting to find out whether it could ever be morally perverse or wrong to make jokes, or laugh about particular things. Utilitarian Concept: I shall engage with a utilitarian perspective when it comes to discovering whether finding humour in something could ever be morally wrong. Take for example the Dutch cartoon of Mohammed. Clearly this had a lot of negative consequences and upset a lot of people. Quite obviously blasphemous humour can be offensive. However no utilitarian evaluation is complete without looking at all the consequences, and it could be argued that there was some positive outcomes. It got people talking about religious views, and reflection and discussion are beneficial to individuals and society as a whole. A society with more discourse and exchanging of ideas is a happier society than one without. In that sense jokes such as these could be argued to be for the greater good. Change and Contrast: The historical contrast between the role of parody in the Medieval carnival and the limits of parody in modernity. Medieval Carnival: Generalised ethical permission under which parody, that would have amounted to blasphemy on any other occasion, was acceptable, under a particular kind of social occasion. Modern day there are restrictions on parody and what is acceptable or viewed as offensive. Could not conceive permission to create a parody of a war memorial for example.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Our Modern Day Love for Convenience’: what makes an authentic marriage?

Territory/object: Marriage/Thai Brides. Concepts: contract, marriage, freedom/autonomy, love. Thinkers/texts: Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Change/contrast: contrast between Thai Bride marriages/modern day British marriages. Contrast object with arranged marriages and love marriages. Main objective: My project is driven by the intuition that our normal Western understanding of marriage as the lifetime union of two loved ones, (under a public formal contract), is questionably going to become a thing of the past. Here, we must take into consideration factors such as: -the world interacting on an unprecedented technological advances,(Internet access, accessibility to cheap travel, etc) and, -more importantly, the resulting impact of influential views from different cultures upon each other. I will be investigating what marriage is in today’s world/in the past, and whether much has really changed. I also ask the question as to whether modern Britain has time for love? Intended knowledge outcomes: By engaging in this project, I intend to: 1. learn about the historical origins of marriage; 2. be acquainted with the standard descriptions of an authentic marriage and the justifications of these; 3. be able to define the central concepts of marriage and property; 4. demonstrate the connection between my key texts and everyday understandings of a phenomenon (here, marriage).

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2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Is our Treatment Towards Animals Morally Acceptable in Today’s Modern Society?

Introduction- Why does today’s society hold such diverse attitudes towards animals? Can controversial practices such as factory farming be justified in our anthropocentric society or is it time to modify our relationship with animals? Aim- In my investigation I want to establish why society is so confused regarding the moral of animals. I will consider how our attitudes towards animals in society have changed throughout history by examining the influences of religion and science. After establishing this I then wanted to scrutinize the relevant philosophical theories which I believe are present in our attitudes now. Kant’s notion of personhood justifies using animals in any way for human benefit and thus is appropriate regarding some of today’s animal practices e.g. animal testing. Singer’s utilitarian outlook which considers animals to have equal moral status with mankind can be related to other aspects of society’s attitudes e.g animal charities. Finally I will examine Owen’s ecological outlook on nature which relates to society’s growing concern for the wellbeing of the whole of the natural world. After considering the strengths and weaknesses of all these views I could then establish which moral attitudes we ought to adopt and enforce.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Capital Punishment and Society’s View – a look into how man perceives capital punishment

Aims. The main aim of this project is to look at the topic of capital punishment and determine if it is a viable form of punishment or if it is simply inhumane. I will look at and consider the methods used and look at religion and determine if a society is responsible for allowing or not allowing capital punishment as a method of punishment. I will also look at how society has changed over the years and determine how this has influenced the perception of capital punishment. Concepts. Primarily I will look at the topic of capital punishment and I will consider the work of Durkheim and his views on society. I will also use Nietzsche as my secondary philosopher and I will consider his works on ethics. Although ethics will not be the main focus of this project I feel that I am unable to discuss capital punishment without using ethics in some part. I may also use some Enlightenment work to justify or oppose the use of capital punishment. Sources. I intend to use a wide variety of sources for this project including both primary and secondary texts. I will use both Durkheim’s, ‘The Division of Labour in Society’ and Nietzsche’s ‘On the Genealogy of Morals’ and ‘Beyond Good and Evil’. I will also use some journals and also look at works by Rousseau, Rawls, Lyotard along with Roger Hood’s book, ‘The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective’. The internet will also provide invaluable when researching capital punishment.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Harry Potter and Good versus Evil … are humans free to choose?

I am beginning my personal project by studying the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling as my territory. More Specifically my territory is the first book by Rowling; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I will consider some of the facts within the novel such as its characters, the plotline and how both of these aspects of the novel fit into my main focus of the Harry Potter books i.e. the concept of good versus evil and indeed whether or not humans are free to choose to follow good or evil. As I mentioned my concept that I have chosen to study is are humans free to follow good or evil. As a philosophical framework for this concept I will compare the Christian theological position of St. Augustine and Pelagius with the work of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. As far as St. Augustine and Pelagius are concerned I will explore aspects such as the human will, human nature, freedom, free will, original sin, predestination, and the grace of God. With the above issues I will consider where St. Augustine and Pelagius agree on these points and where they differ. From this position I will compare the Christian attitude to Nietzsche’s attitude to whether humans are free to follow good or evil. I will consider aspects of his philosophy such as God is dead, free will as an illusion, there being no such thing as morality and good versus evil, the significance of power defining how successful a person is, the will to power, and Nietzsche’s argument against authority. Having gone through my philosophical framework I will compare Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to a parallel territory. For this I have chosen Homer’s The Odyssey. I will compare how stories were told in ancient Greece to how stories are told now. I will also compare why the Stories were told in both territories and for what purpose the stories were told. I will ask how has story telling changes and why? What implications that has on the respective societies? Finally I will consider how the change to stories, their content and the way they are told affect us today in the way we live our lives.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

How Free are We?

Territory: ∗ For my Project territory I chose to look at the work of Derren Brown, I chose this territory because I was interested in exploring the idea of free will, and the influence of others over our free will. I considered that Derren Brown is a perfect example of another human being having a strong influence over someone else’s actions. Concepts: ∗ The concepts I chose to explore were the influence of other people on our free will and consequently how much freedom do we actually have? Philosophical ideas and Objectives: ∗ My exploration of the concept of freedom lead me to examine the work of various philosophers including Kant, using in particular the ‘Categorical Imperative’ taken from his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. ∗ After this examination I hope to be able to conclude whether or not we free and consequently responsible for our actions.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Can putting an end to your own life ever be morally acceptable?

Topic: In this project I am going to be looking at what triggers people to get to the stage where they feel the only way out is to put an end to their life. Aims: The aim of this project is to get a balanced view of how and why people reach the point where they believe that the only way forward is to bring about their own death. I shall attempt to do this by looking a very diverse set of sources in order to show that there can never be a reason that can be applied to all cases. I have chosen to look at the work of Peter Singer, Jonathon Glover and the Christian perspective on the value of life in order to discuss whether it can ever be morally acceptable to bring about your own death. I am also going to look at a range of plays mostly Greek tragedy in order to see how this topic is dealt with. Questions I shall address: Can putting an end to your own life ever be morally acceptable? Are there situations where this could be regarded as acceptable and situations where it certainly could not? Do we have an obligation to preserve life? How do people continue with their life after a failed suicide attempt? Will you always be affected by the decision you made to try and take your life? Key Sources: Peter Singer ‘Practical Ethics’, David. H.Rosen ‘A follow up study of persons who survived jumping from the Golden Gate and San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridges’, Sophocles ‘Oedipus’ ‘Antigone’, Euripides ‘Electra’, Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Football Season is over’ (Suicide Note), Henrik Ibsen ‘Hedda Gabler’

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2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Chagall and his World: the Carnivalesque in Chagall’s Work

Territory: The works of Marc Chagall. Change: The progression of Chagall’s work from The Holy Family to The White Crucifixion. Philosophy: Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World, particularly the notion of the carnivalesque. The aim of this project will be to examine the way in which art (such as Rabelais’ writing and Chagall’s paintings) can undermine the status quo of a particular time even without an explicitly political message. I will explore the works of Chagall in terms what they represent, by means of a detailed analysis of five paintings, The Holy Family, I and the Village, The Birthday, Dedicated to My Fiancee and The White Crucifixion. I will look at them both stylistically and symbolically, and then apply them to Bakhtin’s philosophical framework. My main agenda will be to look at the duality and unity of things, as explored by both Bakhtin and Chagall as well as symbols of rebirth, renewal and immortality. I will do so by considering the parallels between what Bakhtin/Rabelais and Chagall were trying to achieve and their differing methods of doing so. My main sources will be: Rabelais and His World by Mikhail Bakhtin, biographies of Chagall, and secondary literature.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Third World Poverty: are we responsible? … Does anyone genuinely care?

Territory: Africa has always been a focal point when discussing Third World Poverty as this vast continent contains the 24 lowest ranking nations out of the world’s 175 poorest countries. In the Western World we are frequently reminded of the poverty and suffering taking place in Africa through images in the media and events such as ‘Make Poverty History’, ‘Live 8’, and the most recent G8 summit which took place in the UK in 2005. In my project I will be exploring Africa and how it has changed over the past one hundred and fifty years; from pre-colonial times to the ‘Scramble for Africa’, through its struggle to regain independence and up to the current time. In considering how Africa has changed, or has been changed, over the last two centuries, it will also be necessary to give an account of the factors acting upon it such as Europeans as the main founders of the African colonies and the British and American governments in their political policies towards African poverty. Aims: I will look at Africa in a historical and political context and it’s relationships with Europe and America in order to determine whether or not we, in the Western World, can be held responsible for the extensive poverty in our world’s second largest continent. In addition to this, I will be assessing to what extent people actually care about those suffering in the Third World or if their way of life is so removed from our own that we view the situation as more fiction than fact. Finally, I will try to establish if the Western World has a social and moral obligation to try and ameliorate the situation and by what means. Concepts and Philosophy: In order to answer the questions set out in my aims, I will be paying particular reference to Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics and John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice. This will be in conjunction with the exploration of concepts such as; responsibility (individualistic and communitarian), moral obligation, justice and equality.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 3

An Investigation into the Recent Decline in Moral Values within Society, Involving the Question of whether this Relates to the Decline in Church Attendance and Christian Belief in Society Today

Territory: All Saints Church, Hannington; a small country church, in the village of Hannington in Hampshire. Situated in the centre of the village, it is both physically, and spiritually the core of the village. As well as Sunday Worship the church is used for Women’s Institute meetings and play groups and holds lots of village history, for example the millennium tapestry, and engraved windows of Rose Hodgson and William Whistler. Major Concepts: The main aim of my project is to prove that the loss of strict dogma in society from a universal law or code of practice is problematic, as it has caused the decline in morality that we witness in society today. * My main focus is on the Ten Commandments from Exodus Chapter 20. It is evident that numbers 5-10 are still important in society to both believers and non-believers. Whilst before the importance lay upon the Christian doctrine, now society enforces Laws. * There is a difference now in which crimes are punishable, as the rise in science has made all things measurable. We can empirically verify if for example a rape has happened through DNA testing, whereas in the past it was one person’s word against another’s. This dependence on scientific fact extracts from the importance of faith and resembles a reason for the decline in religious belief: people do not believe what they cannot see, and therefore do not trust in a metaphysical God. Philosophers: My main focus will be upon Kant, using his Moral Law and Categorical Imperative which states, “Act only on a maxim, which has the possibility of becoming a universal law”. Whilst Kant only infers that God ought to be true rather than is true, a good Kantian is a good Christian as he infers that one must be moral to everyone at all times. * I will also study Foucault, particularly relating to his ideas on madness in Madness and Civilisation, in which he asserts to us that the rise in science has amounted to a change in society, for people who were considered mad were let out of the mental institutions in the 1980’s as they passed a scientific test. Clearly here, society is being measured, in the same way that proof in the law is measured, meaning one’s relation to oneself is measured and laws are no longer a priori moral truths. I hope to prove that whilst in a dogmatic society individuals strive to be unique, in the free society we live in, citizens strive to be like everyone else but also place themselves way above everyone else, causing a lack of community feel and a rise in immoral behaviour.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 3

What Affect has Human Awareness of its own Mortality had upon the Formation of its Self-Identity?

Objective: My main objective in researching and writing this project is to understand as far as I can how the fluid thing which we can generalise by terming ‘self-identity’ is shaped by the idea of impending death. My objective is not to make the claim that death, or our awareness of its implications to our ‘being’ is the only factor or even the most important factor in shaping our identity; but rather to explore what parts of our identity are affected by this impending doom and in what way. Further, I mean to do this by means of an example, that being my territory which is the site where the twin towers once stood: Ground zero. I aim to use this territory as almost a platform from which to show mortality’s affects. What I mean in saying this, is that our understanding of what Ground zero represents because of its links with the concept of terrorism and thus with the concept of death, through our exposure to the events surrounding it in the media, has had an affect upon the way in which many people relate to the world around us; thus altering, or shaping to a certain extent the manner in which we form our identities. Concepts: The concepts which hold the most importance for this investigation are the concepts of a) Death, b) self-identity and c) human awareness. In looking at the concept of death we must somehow determine what death actually is. What does death really mean for a living entity, does it have boundaries as a term, and to what extent is it truly definable within the limits of language? In looking at self-identity we are looking at the essence of what makes a person who they are, how it is that they identify with themselves and with their surroundings by a method of differentiation and association. In examining this concept we must also note that identity is not as might be misconstrued, a fixed thing, but rather a fluid process of becoming or being. My third main concept is that of human awareness which is implicitly linked with the fluid concept of self-identity. I must undertake an examination of the idea of awareness in order to understand where the connection between death and identity takes place. This is the faculty, if you will, which allows the conception of impending death to affect the continuing process of forming self-identity. Sources: For this project I shall be using diverse sources which spread through a range of different Disciplines i.e. Social-anthropology, evolutionary-biology, sociology and of course Philosophy. I shall refer to older philosophical ideas of death and its effects, however the texts which are most central to my investigation are: Heidegger: Being and Time, and Blanchot: The Death Sentence

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Suicide – a Question of Morality?

Traditional Objections to Suicide which I Intend to Challenge: 1. Human life is sanctified, therefore it is wrong to commit suicide. 2. Suicide is wrong because it is selfish. 3. Man is made in the image of God, therefore it is wrong to take your own life. 4. When we die is God’s decision, not ours, therefore suicide is wrong. 5. Suicide is wrong because it deprives society of an otherwise useful citizen. 6. Suicide is wrong because it is ‘unnatural’. 7. Suicide is wrong because it is a form of murder. 8. ‘Life is a gift from God’, therefore suicide is wrong. Why is Suicide Still Stigmatised? 1. The role of the media: Isn’t the media guilty of undermining the seriousness of suicide by expounding sensationalist story-lines, e.g. ‘Tony Blair committed political suicide today’? Isn’t the media also guilty of reinforcing our negative feelings towards suicide to dramatise a situation e.g. using the term ‘suicide bombers’, instead of ‘martyrs’? Doesn’t the media fail to clarify our own confusions about ‘who’ is to blame when a suicidal act occurs? 2. The semiotics of suicide: Doesn’t the language we use as regards to suicide prejudice our understanding of the term suicide, e.g. the verb ‘to commit’ reminds us of the notion of crime (reiterated by the fact that suicide was only made legal in 1961 in England) and the fact that someone who attempts suicide is considered to be a “victim” is a difficult notion to comprehend given that a victim is someone who usually has something wrongful done to them – not someone who inflicts a wrongful action onto themselves. 3. Is the solution more immoral than the problem?: Whilst we are forced to acknowledge that suicide is a problem that has to be dealt with, given our extensive research of the subject, the problem comes with trying to implement a solution. One commentator has suggested the notion of pre-emptive incarceration based upon statistical analysis of suicides? Yet, how problematic would this be? Are the statistics too broad? Or are they too specific? Is it ethical to incarcerate someone because they are a potential suicide? Does the notion of incarceration revert back to the idea that suicide is a crime? What about the financial aspects of such a scheme? Can such a scheme make any real difference given that the existing methods of dealing with suicides (e.g. telephone services) are largely ineffective? Does the solution lie in a re-structuring of society, as Durkheim suggests? What are the consequences of such a re-structuring? 4. “God is Dead” (Nietzsche), and “Life is Absurd” (Camus) but suicide remains stigmatised: When “God died”, we may have expected the traditional rejection of suicide based upon religious (in particular, Christian) arguments to die with him. Yet, this did not happen. This suggests that Christianity did not install within us a sense that “killing is wrong”; what it does suggest, however, is that this sense of repulsion towards murder (in this case, self-murder) is innate within us – Christianity merely provided the vehicle by which to expound this view. Thus, when “God dies”, our prohibitions remained.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Capitalism and Morality: The relationships between capitalist and moral decisions.

Foucault differentiates the forms of control over society in Discipline and Punish into two categories: sovereign and disciplinary. This study transposes these concepts of power to the dynamics of the capitalist economy. Sovereign power is exerted in the Post-War World by governments and international organisations. It seeks to make the world safe for the free flow of capital by removing any major obstacles which become apparent. Disciplinary power is exerted by the constant pressure to make all decisions according to the maximal advantage of profit; to the supremacy of the desire to be as efficient as possible in the service of thee capital. The basic structures of the economy are the hierarchical organisations of business. At every level of these orders there is constant pressure exerted from (1) above in the form of pressure to extract the maximum surplus value for the holders of the capital and from (2) below in the desire for promotion to a higher rank, so that one attains a closer proximity to the benefits of the capital (a share of the profits). When we see an apparently immoral decision being taken by an individual within this structure, it become hard to say that it has been committed by that person and he is wrong. This is because the structure of our society essential dictates that immoral decisions will be made in a world where the only absolute is the ubiquity of the profit motive.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Globalizing Human Rights

The past few decades have witnessed the rise of the application of international human rights law as well as the extension of a wider public discourse on human rights to the extent that they could be regarded as being one of the most globalized political values of our time. Following the death of grand political narratives, it could be said that in the postmodern era, human rights represent the last remaining utopian ideal; the last remain shard of enlightenment emancipatory values. However, if the twentieth century is said to be the epoch of universal human rights then its triumph is paradoxical since this period has witnessed so many violations. Furthermore, civilians have been killed by those purporting to defend human rights as illustrated by the Kosovo ‘humanitarian’ bombings. Thus whilst the discourse of human rights purports the intrinsic rights of all people based on nothing more than an appeal to humanity, there appears to be a great deal of dissonance between self-satisfied rhetoric and social reality. As we step into the globalized era, rights are transported all over the world and transmitted straight into the homes of people, the problematic nature of universalising rights becomes apparent. Is there such a thing as rights? Can they and should they be universalised? Can rights be squared with the deconstruction of subjectivity? If not, can a non-essentialist theory of rights be developed? These are the questions I intend to answer.

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2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Is it Possible for Soldiers to have Freedom of Morals, Free Will and Individuality in a Military Society based on Discipline, Obedience and Unquestionable Loyalty?

My territory of investigation is the military and its members, including regular soldiers, regiment officers and commanding officers. The concept is morality and freedom of will within the military society. The ethical and moral basis that the military lives by is all very well in order to justify the actions taken by the military but can a soldier just ignore his own morals and values and live in a system where morals are dictated? The soldier loses his freedom of morality in a strict society where unquestioning obedience is a requirement and all decisions are made for the individual. The army operates on a system of discipline, loyalty and mutual trust. These combined make the military an efficient and organised system but are the requirements for soldier’s realistic? A main source I have been using is the Military Covenant, which shows the moral component of the army and the inner qualities needed to be a soldier, such as selfless commitment, courage, discipline, integrity and loyalty. These qualities are brought out by and taught by the leaders but how much responsibility do they have? Are they just the pawns of the people above them in the hierarchy? These questions all lead back to the notion of freedom of morals. I have used Hegelian philosophy through out this study to help answer the above questions. The Philosophy of Right is used in order to highlight the importance of freedom as only belonging to a social being who partakes in ethical life, only in this sense is the individual truly a person. Therefore taking away this freedom, like in the military, the person loses what makes them human. According to Hegel the will is essentially free. This distinguishes us from animals, having purposes and striving deliberately to achieve them. The society that we live in plays a large part in forming our wants and desires and Hegel never loses sight of this. His theory of abstract freedom shows how we do as we please in a state of freedom that is pushed to and fro by the social and historical forces of our times. This is an important point in relation to the freedom of will in the military as it supports the idea that soldiers do choose to limit free will but in doing so open themselves up to a different society where individual choice is limited but it is maybe just an extreme version of the society that we all live in where our choices are shaped by our society. A key change that highlights freedom of choice and morality is the difference between an autocratic society, such as Germany under the rule of Hitler in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and the democratic society of Britain today. There is a huge difference in the military styles; Hitler ruled his military with a dictatorship that called for ‘blind obedience’ whereas any democratic society portrays freedom of choice and initiative. My objective is to discover if these two military systems are really that different in how a soldier is expected to obey orders based on military morals and believe in them fully. Is it possible for a human being to give up their values and morals in order to commit themselves fully to a strict military society? Are our morals really that flexible?

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2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Buddhism in the Western World

Territory: Newcastle Buddhist Centre. My aim was to research Buddhism in the West using my territory, the NBC. My objectives included documenting the changes between traditional Eastern Buddhism and modern Western Buddhism, to understand why traditional thoughts of Buddhism have disappeared and to debate if religion is needed in a modern scientific rational society. It is clear that Buddhist beliefs have altered dramatically through time and movement from the East to the West. Western Buddhism appeals to modern day society because traditional Eastern religious views like rebirth are now only taken symbolically and unlike most religions, Buddhism has no belief in a supreme God. Buddhism can provide a society with guidelines on morality and ways of life, without conflicting with scientific thought.

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2004 Abstracts Stage 3

“The Office”: a philosophical analysis of the changing conditions power and resistance embrace in the corporate workplace

“Using the BBC sitcom the office as a stereotype; a philosophical analysis of the changing conditions power and resistance embrace in the corporate workplace.” Key Concepts/ Words: – Power, ethics, morality, will, resistance, autonomy, freedom, motivation, existence, capitalism, fordism, post-fordism, hybridisation, bureaucracy, red-tape, bio-power, hierarchy, top-down, bottom up, modernity, postmodernity, globalisation. Objectives: – Using the office as a model, I intend to investigate some of the pivotal questions of power, resistance and autonomy which arise when humans interface in the corporate environment. Sources: – Sourcing from books, library journals and internet journals. Original and secondary writings of Nietzsche, Foucault, Heidegger and Machiavelli. – the office first and second series, also related internet sites. – Background reading of business ethics and the condition of postmodernity. Change: – The paradigm shifts between modernity and postmodernity, Fordism and flexible accumulation. How factors such as technological advance, globalization and the drive for ‘the American dream’ affect human behaviour in the business environment. The gap between humans and things: – Man and technology. – The gap between man and the material world. – Man and globalization.