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.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Mummy’s little monster … Can a child be born evil, or are they only made so by adults?

My aim is to explore the question of whether a child can be born purely evil, or whether they can only be made so by adults. I first compared philosopher’s views on the concept of evil whilst also exploring the issue of the age of criminal responsibility in respect to ethics. My territory was the ethical debates behind the treatment of child offenders and debating whether the age of criminal responsibility is correct.

The object I used is the novel and 2011 film We need to talk about Kevin. It is a novel about the relationship between a successful business woman named Eva and her son Kevin, a 16 year old boy who kills seven fellow students at school. The novel tackles the issue of nature vs nurture, asking whether a child can be predisposed to being ‘evil’ and with the intent to kill, or whether a parent’s shortcomings can shape their child and potentially lead them to evil actions.

I looked at the idea of responsibility, both moral and legal, and whether the age of responsibility is ethically sound or not. The fact that the defence of infancy age differs widely from country to country, from as high as 18 in Columbia, to no defence of age at all in Saudi Arabia. suggests that the law is highly debatable.

I looked primarily at the ethics concepts of Kant and Hobbes, comparing Hobbesian ethics laid down in his Leviathan, and Kant’s deontological ethical views with the Groundwork of the metaphysic of morals. I chose to look at Kantian ethics because of his strong claim that one is only responsible for what is under one’s control. Additionally, Hobbes has strong ethical views on authority, which can be linked with the idea of a parental control and also with the age of legal responsibility. Hobbes and Kant both also hold strong different views on why we obey laws in the first place, along with views on freewill and determinism, which ties in with the nature vs. nurture debate.

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.

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Nature vs Nurture

Overall aim- to prove that humans do have a distinct nature which sets us apart as individuals and that we are more than living organisms that respond to social needs. • To prove this I am using my experience of America – to study how I adapted to a new culture to see whether I totally adapted or whether there is part of me that remained the same. • We cannot deny our want and need to adapt to environments and cultures but humans still have an innate nature that defines us as individuals and remains the same all our life. • Our human nature is responsible for HOW we respond to cultures and our upbringing. We are not born a blank slate. PHILOSOPHY. • I liken my ideas to Descartes and his idea of dualism where the mind and body are distinct from each other. • Mencius believed that there are 4 positions of human nature that we are born with but develop throughout our life, o 1. Mind of commiseration o 2. Mind of shame o 3. Mind of respect o 4. Mind of right/wrong • Lao Tzu believed that we should strive to be an ‘uncarved block.’ So we should go back to the basis of our human nature and we should not be affected by anything external to ourselves. • I am using these two philosophers to suggest unlike them I do not believe we are wholly independent from society and I think that Lao Tzu’s ‘uncarved block’ is unrealistic. We could never deny the influences that our society/upbringing has on us. • But like them I believe we have an innate human nature which is responsible for how we respond to our surroundings and is individual to each person.