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A Political Critique of the Objectification of Science and Religion

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This essay explores the role of religion, science, and the secular in contemporary society by showing their connection to social and political legitimacy as a result of historical processes. In Chapter One, the essay presents historical arguments, particularly linguistic, which

This essay explores the role of religion, science, and the secular in contemporary society by showing their connection to social and political legitimacy as a result of historical processes. In Chapter One, the essay presents historical arguments, particularly linguistic, which confirm science and religion as historically created categories without timeless or essential differences. Additionally, the current institutional separation of science and religion was politically motivated by the changing power structures following the Protestant Reformation. In Chapter Two, the essay employs the concept of the modern social imaginary to show how our modern concept of the political and the secular subtly reproduce the objectified territories of science and religion and thus the boundary maintenance dialectic which dominates science-religion discourse. Chapter Three argues that ‘religious’ worldviews contain genuine metaphysical claims which do not recognizably fit into these modern social categories. Given the destabilizing forces of globalization and information technology upon the political authority of the nation-state, the way many conceptualize of these objects religion, science, and the secular will change as well.

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2018-05

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On Consciousness in Artificial and Non-Biological Systems

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The problems addressed by the philosophy of mind arise anew when we consider the possibility of consciousness in artificial and non-biological systems. In this thesis I adapt traditional theories of mind and theories meaning in natural language to the new

The problems addressed by the philosophy of mind arise anew when we consider the possibility of consciousness in artificial and non-biological systems. In this thesis I adapt traditional theories of mind and theories meaning in natural language to the new problems posed by these non-human systems, attempting answers to the questions: Can a given system think? Can a given system have subjective experiences? Can a given system have intentionality? Together these capture most of the typical features of consciousness discussed in the literature. Hence, answers to these questions have the potential to form a basis for a robust and practical future theory of consciousness in non-human systems, and I argue that the broad classes of functionalist and emergentist theories of mind are those worth considering more in the literature. The answers given in this thesis through the lenses of these two classes of theories are not exclusive, and may interact with or be supportive of one another. The functionalist account tells us that a system can be thinking, sentient, and intentional just in case it exhibits the correct structure, and the emergentist account tells us how this structure might arise from previous systems of the right complexity. What these necessary structures or complexities are depends on which functionalist and emergentist accounts we accept, and so this thesis also addresses some of the possibilities allowed for by certain variants of these theories. What we shall obtain, in the end, are some prima facie reasons for believing that certain systems can be conscious in the ways described above.

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2017-05

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Nietzsche, Unity, Genealogy

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Nietzsche’s aphoristic style and affinity for rhetorical ‘masks’ raise an acute interpretive problem. The problem is that his fragmented style might be taken to reflect a deeper fragmentation in his thought. For instance, philosopher Raymond Geuss argues that we should

Nietzsche’s aphoristic style and affinity for rhetorical ‘masks’ raise an acute interpretive problem. The problem is that his fragmented style might be taken to reflect a deeper fragmentation in his thought. For instance, philosopher Raymond Geuss argues that we should not read Nietzsche’s thought as being unified. Against Geuss, I argue that we should. To make my case, I appeal to Nietzsche’s meta-philosophy, which gives us plenty of evidence for attributing unity to his thought. I conclude by reflecting on why this result is important for interpreting different aspects of Nietzsche’s work.

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2017-05

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A Virtue Ethics Account for Maximizing Enjoyment in Life

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Philippa Foot's theory of Natural Goodness provides a theoretical ethical framework that encompasses Aristotelian notions of flourishing and practical rationality. Foot's text provides a clear path to self-fulfillment, and her argument suggests that for a human being to flourish, they

Philippa Foot's theory of Natural Goodness provides a theoretical ethical framework that encompasses Aristotelian notions of flourishing and practical rationality. Foot's text provides a clear path to self-fulfillment, and her argument suggests that for a human being to flourish, they must experience happiness, actively enjoy good things, encompass human goodness, and exercise practical rationality. This thesis aims to evolve Foot's project of Natural Goodness from a theoretical model into a configuration that may be applied to everyday practical living. This project begins by detailing Philippa Foot's theory, walking through each step of the argument Foot provides in support for her ethical framework. Following, the merits of the theory are compared to other renowned ethical theories, and the intuitive nature of Natural Goodness is highlighted. It is argued that although Foot's ethical framework is praiseworthy, the theory is too open-ended in its discussion of happiness for individuals lacking human goodness to confidently apply the account in a practical setting. Due to this, I explore Foot's notion of happiness, defined as the enjoyment of good things, and I focus on the subjective aspect of enjoyment. By applying research from the field of positive psychology, the definition becomes guided into a more practical form, allowing for Foot's framework of Natural Goodness to become an applicable theory within contemporary society. Once this is achieved, and interrogatories are answered, I delve into ramifications of this new framework, and ways that individuals may increase the quality of their own lives.

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2017-12

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The Art of Boundlessness: Living with Desire, Others, and Time

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One of humanity's perpetual endeavors has been to come to an understanding of its nature so as to maximize the ability of persons to acquire happiness in this lifetime as well as to live in harmony with the cosmos. This

One of humanity's perpetual endeavors has been to come to an understanding of its nature so as to maximize the ability of persons to acquire happiness in this lifetime as well as to live in harmony with the cosmos. This philosophic work seeks to contribute to that perpetual mission by delving into the nature of desire and seeks to make the findings of this project relevant to society by identifying contemporary ills that are related to a deficient understanding of desire. This work not only seeks to help society achieve balance in the present but also seeks to help it maintain that balance through the provision of insights and teachings that are timeless in nature, for they have relevance to all ages through their illumination of the nature of humans. This project does so by turning to the Chinese Daoists and the Roman Stoics for their wisdom in regards to desire and how to relate to it. Additionally, this project turns to Paul Tillich to help preserve whatever balance this project helps achieve as he provides a remedy to modern ills by illuminating the course that was taken to bring it to its current predicament. Passages from the Daoist text the Dao-de-jing, the diary of the Roman Emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius, and the correspondences of the Roman Stoic Seneca the Younger found in On the Shortness of Life are interpreted in the hopes of not only providing advice on how to co-exist with desire but also in the hopes of establishing or contributing to an existing bridge that links Eastern and Western thought so that both hemispheres can cooperatively contribute to the development of humanity. This project also seeks to cultivate a desire amongst the populace to engage with philosophic works by showing that the insights they provide can be practically applied so as to develop one's characteristics that are conducive to finding that which helps one feel personally fulfilled and to achieving success in one's endeavors.

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2017-12

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Defining Sex Trafficking: A Rights-Based Approach

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Abstract. The term "sex trafficking" can mean many different things, depending on who uses it. To some, it may be synonymous with prostitution. To others, it may equate to slavery. And some may find that sex trafficking differs from both

Abstract. The term "sex trafficking" can mean many different things, depending on who uses it. To some, it may be synonymous with prostitution. To others, it may equate to slavery. And some may find that sex trafficking differs from both slavery and prostitution. But I find that the term "sex trafficking" is used improperly when referring to phenomena that may not entail the violation of rights of any individual involved. For this reason, various definitions of "sex trafficking" may inappropriately conflate sex trafficking with prostitution. In this essay, I argue against such a conflation through supporting a rights-based approach of defining "sex trafficking," in which every instance of true sex trafficking necessitates a violation of someone's rights. First, I begin by laying the foundation of my discussion with definitions and various government and non-government uses of the term "sex trafficking." Then, I argue for the rights-based approach. I proceed to explore how the rights-based approach relates to consent, force, coercion, deception, and competence. Then, I compile my findings, synthesize a definition, and elaborate on a few questions regarding my definition. Using the term "sex trafficking" correctly, as I argue, means that we necessarily use the term in a context of a violation of rights.

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2016-05

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The Price of Being Complex and Sexy: a Theory of Documentary Ethics

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I argue that a morally heavy, poorly researched, emotionally powerful piece of non-fiction media with complex subject matter shown to an ill-equipped audience is unethical. I then evaluate methods of avoiding unethical situations from the perspective of media creators. I

I argue that a morally heavy, poorly researched, emotionally powerful piece of non-fiction media with complex subject matter shown to an ill-equipped audience is unethical. I then evaluate methods of avoiding unethical situations from the perspective of media creators. I conclude by calling for a strictly diligence based ratings board anchored in the professional guilds of the entertainment industry.

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2014-12

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The Most Sublime Object of Ideology: Reworking Government's Sublime Object

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The source of governmental power is the Zizekian sublime object of ideology. This object is composed of demands that are enforced by a force that is vast and powerful beyond comprehension. It is the Lacanian Symbolic Order enforced by the

The source of governmental power is the Zizekian sublime object of ideology. This object is composed of demands that are enforced by a force that is vast and powerful beyond comprehension. It is the Lacanian Symbolic Order enforced by the fear of castration by the Other. The evolution of government is characterized by the use of more subversive power mechanisms. The more subversive these mechanisms, the more they resemble the Symbolic Order and the greater their effectiveness. Marx outlines a progression of governmental structures. At each point of change, there is great unrest amongst the population. In this way, unrest and protest are indicative of a need for the change i.e., protest is a symptom of a system in need of revolution. There is a growing sense of unrest, particularly in the United States, characterized by growing participation in protest movements. The government is oftentimes responding with violence, a sign that the rules of its sublime object are failing to do their job. Thus, there must be a substitution for the current sublime object. Existentialist humanism seems to be the best substitution available because it promotes the safe release of instinctual drives while still promoting social cohesion. Humanism values all parts of the human condition and recognizes that human shortcomings are simply a fact of life. Recognition of peoples' tendency to fail and to later overcome these failures is a failsafe built into the new sublime object, thus preserving civil society in a way that religion or neo-liberal ideas cannot.

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2014-05

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The Ethics of Food Localization

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The globalized food system has caused detriments to the environment, to economic justice, and to social and health rights within the food system. Due to an increasing concern over these problems, there has been a popular turn back to a

The globalized food system has caused detriments to the environment, to economic justice, and to social and health rights within the food system. Due to an increasing concern over these problems, there has been a popular turn back to a localized food system. Localization's main principle is reconnecting the producer and consumer while advocating for healthy, local, environmentally friendly, and socially just food. I give utilitarian reasons within a Kantian ethical framework to argue that while partaking in a local food system may be morally good, we cannot advocate for localization as a moral obligation. It is true from empirical research that localizing food could solve many of the environmental, economic, social, and health problems that exist today due to the food system. However, many other countries depend upon the import/export system to keep their own poverty rates low and economies thriving. Utilitarian Peter Singer argues that it would be irresponsible to stop our business with those other countries because we would be causing more harm than good. There are reasons to support food localization, and reasons to reject food localization. Food localization is a moral good in respect to the many benefits that it has, yet it is not a moral obligation due to some of the detriments it may itself cause.

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2015-05

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An Analysis of Salafi Radicalism

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The unprecedented rise of terrorist network ISIL has brought the revolutionary Salafi agenda to the forefront of global politics. This thesis provides an analysis of the ideology and an overview of ISIL. The research is comprised of reports on the

The unprecedented rise of terrorist network ISIL has brought the revolutionary Salafi agenda to the forefront of global politics. This thesis provides an analysis of the ideology and an overview of ISIL. The research is comprised of reports on the organization from prominent think-tanks, books analyzing the tenets and thinkers of Salafi radicalism and original source material confiscated from ISIL's predecessor al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). An international coalition is posited as a solution to the threat as well as the Middle Eastern terrorist threat more broadly. However, the likelihood of such international cooperation is minimal, and the commitment it would require may make it unfeasible.

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2015-05