2022 Abstracts Stage 3

To what extent does war photography provide the potential for noesis?

The subject of my project is war photography, and the goal is to determine the level of noesis that a photograph can convey. I picked war photographs to emphasise this since it is a reality that many people do not face, particularly in Western Europe. Secondly, I picked war photography because the photographs I’ve chosen for my project represent other people’s grief and suffering, and it’s crucial for society to avoid aestheticizing others’ misery and understand what function they may and should provide. Through Jean Baulldriad’s hyperreality, the project next investigates combat photos in a modern digital setting.

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

Kantian Perspectives on the use of Government Powers in Overseas Counter-terrorism operations

The aim of this project is to investigate the current counter terrorism dilemma concerning the targeted killing, using drone strikes, on British terrorists overseas. It will be explored through a Kantian perspective and criticised, ultimately arguing against Kant’s theories. The primary case study used throughout the project is on the 2015 Reyaard Khan killing, ordered by PM at the time, David Cameron. There are four subsections within the dilemma to be explored: firstly, whether it is morally sound to kill at all, then assuming for the purpose of the essay that it is, whether it is ok to do so without a fair trial. The project will also investigate whether the British Government should be killing British citizens overseas when the death penalty is illegal in the UK, and if they are not, should they be passing on intelligence to the US for the Americans to send the drones instead?

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Art of MMA

The object of this project is the sport of MMA itself, and the project will emphasise and refer to the philosophical concepts of Sun Tzu, with a concise focus on his philosophy of war within The Art of War. With regards to context, this project will emphasise how a mixed martial artist’s adherence of Sun Tzu’s war philosophy can contribute to the elevation of their performance. This essay will firstly address Sun Tzu’s Five Indispensable Matters of the leader and demonstrate how an MMA head coach’s adherence of these concepts can build the foundations of a successful team. This will be executed by outlining a specific MMA Gym that subconsciously adheres to the five matters and will meanwhile demonstrate the type of leader that aspiring mixed martial artists should aim to fight under in accordance with Sun Tzu’s philosophy. After evaluating the five matters, I will then focus upon Sun Tzu’s concepts of The Spirit of the Troops and Emptiness and Strength as here the emphasis will shift from leader to soldier, and therefore I will apply his philosophy directly to the fighter’s rather than their head coaches. Here I will apply his concepts to contemporary mixed martial arts examples and demonstrate circumstances where they are subconsciously applied by successful MMA practitioners. The purpose of this will be to demonstrate how a mixed martial artists adherence of the Sun Tzu’s philosophy can prove to be prudent in one’s pursuit of a world title. With regards to secondary literature, I will utilise Michaelson’s Sun Tzu for Execution, which is his interpretation of how to utilise Sun Tzu’s war philosophy to get results in the modern day. In order to improve the validity of this project I have also conducted two online interviews via direct message with professional mixed martial artists Nathan Fletcher (6-1) and Luke Riley (3-0), with the two athlete’s responses showing contrasting perspectives.

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

Melissa Walker’s Masks: The History of Soldier’s PTSD and its Societal Depiction

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is associated with impairments in everyday attention and memory
PTSD is associated with enhanced acquisition of conditioned fears
(S. Taylor, 2017, p. 45)

Panic disorder, and alcohol and substance abuse frequently emerge in conjunction with PTSD and that is not isolated to treatment-seeking populations
(Wilson Friedman & Lindy, 2004, p. 237)

Priory Survey of 1,000 men:
77% said that they suffered from anxiety, stress or depression
40% said that they would only seek help if it got as bad as thoughts of suicide
(Priory Group, Survey: 2004)

I don’t think we are doing enough for our veterans. Their care should be a government priority, and it should not be left to charities like Help For Heroes to subsidise the cost.
(Gregg, 2015)

2014 Abstracts Stage 2

Is Proportionality Disproportionate in Our Consideration of Other Nations’ Actions?

This project aims to explore the disparity between a fully-functioning international model of Hegemonic Stability and the reluctance to intervene in a country so belonging on the ash heap of history as North Korea.

By the end of this project I hope to have fully elucidated the current geopolitical state of affairs with regards to the censoring of information traffic and the contemporary misuse of a benevolent world leadership. In order to fully construct or reject the argument for intervention in the Korean Peninsula, I shall be referring to Hobbes ‘, Hegel’s Sittlichkeit and the State and Kant’s Perpetual Peace Essays.

Furthermore, in order to fully understand the political weight of such allegations, the Bush administrations’ actions in 2002 will be critically assessed, in light of present day hindsight.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

A 21st Century Conception of the State

Just war criterion is often too strict and struggles to justify any war. World War II; arguably the most justified and necessary war in all of history would struggle to be justified using a modern doctrine of just war. In the 21st Century the most problematic requirement of a just war is that only a legitimate political authority can wage a war. My point is best illustrated by a comparison between the September 11th attacks in 2001 and the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. I will discuss the attacks and demonstrate the problems that the distinction between the two highlights major flaws in the idea of legitimate political authority. I will then be able to discuss what can constitutes a legitimate political authority if a nation-state is no longer the reasonable definition. I will discuss Rawls’ political theory of an international overlapping consensus in his work The Law of Peoples allowing for a global conception of justice. My overall task is to define what should constitute a 21st Century legitimate political authority.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

In 2009: Can the Pen be Mightier than the Sword?

During the course of this project my main objectives are to explore the purpose of war throughout history, to assess what can make war morally justifiable, man’s natural tendencies towards violence and to explore the place of war within modern society with policing factions such as NATO and nuclear deterrents. The main question asked within this essay is: with man’s natural disposition for violence, can the pen EVER be mightier than the sword?

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Genealogy, Power and War: Death from Inside

That which mankind has called war throughout the ages has become a very different phenomenon to what it once was; in our day and age we find ourselves part of a world continuously in conflict, but the very fact that we know this is due to the scope and depth of the information which has been compiled and disseminated by the media. This project will focus on how war, and in particular the very nature of our understanding and views governing it, has been inexorably changed with the advent of advanced information technologies. Paying specific attention to the means of its dissemination and the techniques and methods involved in this process, I will discuss how information, the very stuff of which our truths and ideas are composed of, and its constant manipulation not only affect our views on war and the societies which it involves, but also those of the entirety of our working geopolitical structure. I will focus mainly on late-twentieth to early twenty-first century U.S. warfare, explaining certain practices and decisions implemented by Americans as a whole, keeping these in line with the aims and context of my inquiry. I have chosen to apply Foucault’s ideas on genealogy as the central methodology upon which this inquiry will be constructed as I believe it to be not only pertinent and applicable to the subject matter, but more rigorous and conducive to the production of truth necessary to its competent investigation than any traditional historical method. Although I deviate slightly from the “traditional” foucaultian understanding of genealogy, choosing to rely heavily on statistics gathered through the process of polling and information distributed through newspaper, journal, and magazine articles instead of using mainly primary accounts, I believe my adaptation to his methodology to both ground my study in the temporal contexts which I analyze and complement my work and its search for interruptions within the context of political history, war, and technology. I will also draw heavily upon other concepts previously explored by Foucault to better explain my own views, with specific attention paid to the natures of truth and power; I will then adapt these ideas in such a manner as to allow for further elaboration of certain ideas essential to the development of my thesis which I will address later on in this work. In order to achieve a more in-depth understanding of the subject, I will juxtapose the philosophy of power and right of Thomas Hobbes, the ideas of which I argue to be outdated and now completely at odds with the realities of modern global, and especially American, politics, against that of Paul Virilio; a large portion of this investigation will deal with some of the more prominent ideas ascribed to this contemporary thinker, as I will seek to explain parts of his analysis of the first Gulf War through an inquiry of the media’s effect on the American, and indeed global, populace within this context. I will then conclude by condensing different aspects of both Foucault’s and Virilio’s theories into a single, working thesis.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Morality of War: the War in Afghanistan and the UK Experience

The War in Afghanistan; which began on October 7, 2001 as the U.S. military operation, ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’, was launched by the United States with the United Kingdom, and Natoled, UN authorized ISAF in response to the September 11 attacks. This conflict will form the basis of my project. I will discuss the various ethical issues which have arisen from it and attempt to clarify the different arguments for and against such a war.

There are many issues surrounding this conflict, for example the justification of the war itself, Increasing civilian casualties, lack of support for troops, both from the public and in terms of equipment. The detrimental effect on the population, especially farmers and industrial workers. The lack of sufficient troop numbers. The requirements of the Afghan population. There are many philosophical proponents of these theories and I intend to apply the theories of a number of philosophers to the problems we see in this conflict; Plato, Hobbes, Kant, Hegel Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Locke & Rousseau, are some of the philosophers I will use to discuss the moral issues which result from these problems, from the just war arguments to the opposing teleological and deontological notions of war. Change I am particularly interested in the attitude of the UK towards this conflict, I will investigate the extent to which our attitude to war has changed, from the first and second world wars to the present day conflict in Afghanistan, with reference to the Falkland’s conflict and the Northern Ireland troubles. I wish to understand how these conflicts have affected the way the UK views war. To what extent has our perception of it changed over the past one hundred years? And what can we learn from these past conflicts? This shall be the ultimate goal of my project.

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Fighting for Peace: a Contradiction in Terms or the Harsh Reality?

Object: I chose to examine the concept of war and terror and if it is really possible to fight in order to restore peace. The main focus of my project lay in the idea that war will only spawn more hatred, and so creating a war with the objective of bringing peace to a society is an impossibility. In conjunction with this I attempted to look at the reasons why people agree to war, and the freedom of British citizens when they agree to join the Army. Territory: When I originally decided upon a territory I chose the ‘War on Terror’, namely the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Upon further investigation it became clear to me that these were two separate wars with different focuses and motivations, and so I shifted the focus of my project solely to the war in Iraq, and the reasons for and against this war. I also looked at the concept of the British Army and the reasons behind why soldiers are deployed to fight in what was not a British fight to begin with. The Philosophy behind my project: Gadamer and Death: One of the concepts that became most clear to me was that of the idea of the repression of death. Gadamer notes that society’s perception of death had changed, and I examined if this affected the decision of those joining the Army. Kant, Freedom and Duty: I also looked at the idea of whether the innate sense of duty that we possess, according to Kant, affects the decisions we make in everyday life, such as joining the Army. I also discussed how much freedom we actually have, when, if you join the Army, you have to sign up for a minimum period of time, and you can be forcibly deployed to fight in wars you might not believe in.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

The War on Terrorism

This project investigates the motivations behind different terrorist attacks. From what drives them to become involved in terrorism to the different positions that are open to them and finally the effectiveness of their role and the influence of society’s perception. I decided to title my project “The War on Terrorism”. By my title I do not mean the campaign that was initiated by America and joined by other countries throughout the world to ‘curb the spread of terrorism’. My project will discuss the reasons why this campaign will not work. This War on Terrorism was authorized by the United States Congress under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists and was passed on the 18th of September 2001 after the attacks on America on 9/11. The object I plan to focus on is a scene from the film ‘The Kingdom’. The reason for this is because it is a film about terrorism, which I think compliments the objective I am trying to prove. The reason why I chose this is film is because at the start of the film when the terrorist bomb goes off in the housing compound, Agent Fleury whispers in one of his associate’s ears in comfort something we as the audience cannot hear. Then in one of the latest scenes when the leader of the terrorist group is shot and is dying he whispers to a young girl in comfort something that again we as the audience can’t hear. Then in the final scene each person reveals what was said to them. It was, “Don’t worry, we’ll kill them all.” This for me is very significant because it showed that even though the American agent was claiming to be bringing justice to the terrorists he was actually just looking to kill them all for killing his comrades. Both sides had the same objective, they both wanted to kill. How will this ever stop terrorism? My parallel territory was the Cold War as I believe no other event in history has affected world politics as the same way the Cold War did in the mid 1940’s till the early 1990’s. Terrorism has taken its place in modern day politics. The concepts I identified throughout my project were power, identity and the loss of identity. I believe America’s waging of war on terror was just an assertion of power and way in which to reinsert them as the main hegemonic power throughout the world. A philosophers whose work I have used is Ted Honderich, especially his work terrorism for Humanity which raises many difficult questions that are unavoidable at this moment in time as the war on terror rages. Questions related to the morality of terrorism and the use of political violence. In this work Honderich’s arguments for and against terrorism are directed towards the goal of the Principle of humanity. The questions which are raised throughout run along the lines of when is terrorism right, if ever? And when is it wrong? And what are the reasons for it being wrong? The main reason I chose this philosopher to focus on is because throughout this work he implores us to open our minds and explore political philosophy but he reminds us that even though we are opening our minds to see the bigger picture it does not mean we have to lose our convictions. Other philosophers I chose to look at are Castell and his work on resistance and identity, Habermas’s philosophy at the time of terror and Baudrillard and his fatalist theory,

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

The Morality of War: the Iraq Conflict and its Solutions

Territory: The Iraq war began in March of 2003 with the American led coalition invasion of Iraq with the aim of quelling the threat to America and Europe from Weapons of Mass Destruction. This conflict is the foundation of my project and the territory which I will apply the philosophical concept of Ethics during my project. Object: Various problems have arisen since the conflict began in 2003. Such as: Britain’s under supplied assault on Iraq, The Detrimental Effects of Prolonged Warfare, The Topography and Terrain of Iraq, Destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure and Military discipline and morality within the Coalition Forces. During my last project I used the works of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and Clausewitz to derive solutions to the above five problems. For example, undertaking attrition warfare over manoeuvre warfare in order to minimise destruction of infrastructure, or stimulating the Iraq economy to lessen the burden on the coalition to support Iraq financially. During this project, however, I am going to discuss the morality of those solutions. I will use the two opposing ethical philosophical fields of Teleology and Deontology; specifically, Utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. This is the philosophical grounding of my project and the application of pragmatic philosophy to real issues. Change: Development is an important process in philosophical thinking and so it is important to show change over time and apply philosophical concepts to it. For this project I am going to look at the change in humanitarian concerns over a period of one hundred years from World War II to the present Iraq conflict. In particular I will focus on aerial bombing. I will then use the ethical concepts developed throughout the project thus far in order to analyse the morality of the two conflicts with reference to aerial bombing campaigns conducted in both to conclude the morality of the Iraq war and also discover a change, if any, in concern for human rights.

2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Leo Strauss: a Political God and his Disciples?!

In my project I will be examining how the Bush Administration has been influenced by the work of Leo Strauss and how this has affected their rule, both in relation to the use of civil religion in America and their foreign policy. Following the War on Terror, many scholars and journalists have been quick to announce that the Bush Administration has been infiltrated by ‘Straussians’ who are using Straus’s work to support their use of Noble Lies. However, it is necessary to assess whether these politicians are distorting the meaning of Straus’s work in order to support their own agendas. To support the main arguments in my project, I will be looking at a variety of works by Strauss and the documentary “The Power of Nightmares” by Adam Curtis. Some of the concepts being explored include; Civil religion, War, and Myths/Noble Lies.

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.

2005 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Re-evaluation of Terrorism and Modernity

There is currently a spectre haunting the modern world, whose presence demands the attention of socioeconomic, political and intellectual institutions to which it is opposed. It has claimed thousands of lives, initiated wars, undermined international law and called into question modernity’s ideological foundations; and yet, discourse on terror has failed to confront its true origins. Knee-jerk condemnation and bureaucratic rationality continue to dominate responses, manufacturing consent while excluding any form of self-reflexivity or discussion. In situating terrorism in the dialectic of modernity, this project aims to assert the absolute necessity of such a re-evaluation in finding a solution. Key themes • Problems of the inherited language: Towards redefinition of ‘Terrorism’ • The legacy of the Enlightenment and the task of Philosophy. • Power bases and the assertion of legitimacy. Fundamentalism vs. Liberty. • Towards a resolution: forums of discussion and devolution and hospitality