Doctoral Degrees (Philosophy)

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    Existentialism and suicide: a philosophical analysis
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) Heymans, Susanna Helena; Van Niekerk, Anton A. ; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Contemporary suicide theorists describe suicide as "something" that goes wrong when a person's self-preservation fails, if and should there be mental health issues or significant life stressors that a person experiences before their death. By implication, an inborn, predetermined "human nature" usually protects a person against self-harm and suicide, which means that self-preservation follows naturally, unthinkingly, and, as a matter of course, is characteristic of our species. This dissertation will level criticism at the supposition that people are simple, instinctual beings and behave in unison. As an alternative, existentialist thinkers, such as Kierkegaard, Sartre, and, in particular, Camus, show that it takes strenuous ongoing effort to exist because one carries an inescapable imperative to make oneself. By creating or bringing about oneself, the self is aware that being human in the world comes with an intricate mix of admirable capabilities and tragic limitations. Considering a person in this light shows that the abilities and constraints residing in the human condition can make it possible for a person to end his or her own life. In this way, one contemplates how scientific advancement and technology showcase the mind subjugating the world to its will and understanding. Yet, it falls short of making sense of oneself and the worth of one's life or what lies inaccessible in the human heart. As mortal and conscious, a human person often understands its strife in an unintelligible universe as absurd and daily life as repetitive and taxing. One is aware of the human incapability to create sense and purpose in an irrational universe, except through faith, which often leaves one searching for a reason to live or a justification to die. More so, a human person knows full well that death "solves everything" and extricates one from any condition or situation by ending one's consciousness. On this account, I argue that suicidality implicates the human subject, this curious mix of the extraordinary and the pitiful.
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    Ritual partisans or Rational voters? Voting behaviour in Botswana’s electoral democracy: 2008-2019
    (2023-03) Seabo, Batlang; Schulz-Herzenberg, Colette
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Botswana has sustained its multiparty electoral democracy which was established since independence in 1966. However, there are concerns about one party dominance within a multiparty system. The implications are that if voting reflects long-standing social and political identities, then opportunities for minorities to become majorities are slim. Also, democratic consolidation is delayed if voting decisions are based on ascriptive social and long standing entrenched partisan identities. This study departs from the premise that Botswana has undergone significant socioeconomic transformation over the last thirty years. These events, including increases in the society’s levels of education and access to political information through a wide array of media, hold significant implications for the voting motivations of Botswana’s citizens. Using three cross-sectional Afrobarometer surveys (the 2008, 2014 and 2019 rounds), this study investigates the underlying motivations of Botswana’s voters by analyzing competing theoretical voting models, namely the sociological, partisanship and rational choice theories of voting to assess firstly, which of these theoretical families is the most powerful and persuasive, and secondly, whether Botswana’s socioeconomic developments have changed the explanatory power of voting motivations over time. The study expects to find that Short-term economic and political performance evaluations increase in importance while sociological factors and partisanship decline in their ability to structure vote choice. Moreover, increases in education levels and access to political information should produce skilled voters who rely less on long-standing sociological and partisan cues to guide their voting decisions but more on Short-term rational choice factors. Thus, the study tests whether a process of cognitive mobilization is unfolding in Botswana and is moderating the voting decisions of voters, especially among those who are cognitively mobilized voters. Bivariate and multivariate (logistic regression) techniques are used to analyze the data and address these research objectives.
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    The ontological demand: on the ethics of being-in-common in Jean-Luc Nancy and Achille Mbembe
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-11) Gerber, Schalk Hendrik; Du Toit, Louise; Van der Merwe, Willie; Halsema, Annemie; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: No abstract available.
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    The moral justifiability of hydraulic fracturing assessed against the Principle of Double Effect
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-11) Liezl, Groenewald; Rossouw, Gedeon Josua; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates whether hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, could be morally justified assessed against the Principle of Double Effect. This Principle emanates from the Just War Tradition and holds that an action that aims to produce a good effect, but produces harmful side-effects, is morally acceptable if the act is good in itself, or morally neutral, the intention of the actor is good, and the side-effects are not a means to the goal, the good effect is morally permissible if it is directly produced by the action and not by the harmful side-effects, and the good effect is sufficiently good to compensate for allowing the harmful side-effects. Apart from being applied in warfare to jus in bellum (justice in war) decisions, the Principle of Double Effect has also been applied in the field of bioethics and in business decision-making. Based on the analogies and disanalogies between war and business, a revised Principle of Double Effect for application in transnational business decisions has also been developed, but its transferability remains problematic. In this study the classical formulation of the Principle from jus in bellum considerations is thus applied to the moral discourse about fracking in South Africa. The discourse about hydraulic fracturing in South Africa generated lively debates among activists, government officials, corporations, and communities. These debates have been informed by various motives ranging from self-interest, diverse ideological paradigms, competing monetary interests, and concern for communities and the environment. Although some opponents and most proponents relied on empirical evidence to support their arguments, none applied a moral decision-making framework to arrive at their opinions regarding fracking. The study identifies the main themes in the discourse about fracking in specifically the Karoo Basin – an arid semi-desert area in South Africa. Seven main themes are explored based on the arguments posited by opponents and proponents of fracking. This is followed by an evaluation of the discourse against the four conditions of the Principle of Double Effect to determine if fracking could be morally justifiable given its foreseeable harmful side-effects. Corporations in the oil and gas industry should take heed of the findings when developing their corporate social responsibility strategies, as it was found that fracking cannot not be morally justified assessed against the four conditions of the Principle of Double Effect.
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    A feminist rereading of the figure of Winnie Mandela
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Smith, Charla Emmarentia; Du Toit, Louise; Coetzee, Azille; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation uses two levels of analysis to explore the meaning that was made of the figure of Winnie Mandela throughout her life. The first level exposes the patriarchal, nationalist image of her and the second explores the symbolic order, the level at which these meaning-making frameworks operate. The aim is to instil a heightened understanding of the effective working of the dominant symbolic underlying our interpretive shaping into existence of a figure such as Winnie Mandela. Three key themes in her life are explored per chapter namely, wife (Waiting Woman), Mother, and (politically) violent woman, by employing Irigaray and Cavarero’s method of mimicry and rereading myths. She is read as emblematic of the fate of the feminine in South Africa’s struggle history and political transition. The reading and critical rereading and the posing of alternative interpretations of her as a figure, open up a range of different representations of her life, as opposed to simply juxtaposing “the right” interpretation with “the lie”. There is no attempt to hypostatise any representation of her, instead the reader is encouraged to activate their own image of her and enter a critical dialogue with the text. It is within this type of continuous critical engagement that the meanings attached to “man” and “woman”, and how they function as interpretative filters, can begin to change significantly. I show that, by rethinking the ways in which women can act or speak once they start speaking in a symbolic order that more fully represents them, we can empower women in a political space. In other words, by reimagining and challenging the symbolic order, new possibilities for women acting, speaking and leading in the public/political sphere open up. By exposing the ways in which women have been excluded from philosophy under the feminine symbolic principle of unknowability, immanence and excess, the intention is to reveal the ways in which they are excluded from “full membership of the human community” and to show how this exclusion spills over, both into political exclusion and into our reading practices and interpretive frames. The project aims to understand whether and how women are figured and symbolised as subjects and to what extent this figuration influences access to political power. To this end, the guises women are required to adopt as wife, or mother to enter politics is considered specifically also with reference to Afrikaner and African nationalisms. he consequences of exceeding these roles is discussed throughout and the ways in which the figure of Winnie Mandela challenges and disrupts the Irigarayan/Cavarero inspired theoretical frame I use is a recurring theme.