Masters Degrees (Philosophy)

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    A story of the scoliotic body: reimagining the posture of philosophy with Adriana Cavarero and feminist disability theory.
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-11) den Besten, Lauren Marion; du Toit, Louise; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis ventures to reimagine the body posture of the philosophical subject as inclined and scoliotic, as opposed to vertical. The first main objective is to elucidate the symbolic and physical denigration faced by women in general and people/women with disabilities, who are said to deviate from the vertical, erect, posture of the normative philosophical subject, emblematic of the Western symbolic order. I draw extensively from feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero’s seminal works, especially Inclinations: A Critique of Rectitude (2016) and Horrorism: Naming Contemporary Violence (2009), together with feminist disability theory, to facilitate a nuanced and creative analysis of the vertical figure’s motive to denigrate bodies that incline. I show how this vertical figure has ‘disabled’ women’s bodies and the multifaceted ways in which vulnerability, gender, violence, and ethics intersect. The second main objective is to use Cavarero's concept of the inclined figure and feminist disability theory to reconceptualize the philosophical subject's body posture. In the place of the traditional upright figure, I seek to reimagine the philosopher’s posture as inclined and scoliotic, leading to a transformative understanding of ontology, ethics, and politics. Viewed from the philosophical perspective of the scoliotic subject, these domains of philosophy appear as concerned with the human condition of being inclined, corporeal, and vulnerable. The traditional reign of the philosophical subject characterised by verticality, self-sufficiency, disembodiedness and invulnerability, must end. I further aim to explore the potential of narrative language as a tool for deconstructing the symbolic order of the vertical figure and reinventing a language in which women, the disabled, and of course disabled women can speak philosophically in their own language and on their terms. Each chapter will be thematically marked by at least one of my disabilities or bodily differences: the curved spine, the naked pate of a woman with Alopecia, and the story of a girl with epilepsy serve as the corporeal tapestries or templates for my philosophical investigations. In so doing, my project has a fleshy, visceral outline and gestures towards my first act of philosophical disobedience, namely, to theorise through my own flesh. I will therefore read philosophy through a prism of narration about bodily existence, through relaying historical stories of discrimination, through relaying stories of pain and public humiliation, as well as, importantly, a political story of resistance to the injustices that accompanied these experiences.
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    The ethical complexities of palliative sedation
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) Odell, Shannon; Hall, Susan; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy. Applied Ethics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Within the realms of the continuum of palliative care at the end-of-life, is the rare, last-resort practice of palliative sedation. Palliative sedation is the intentional lowering of an imminently dying patient’s consciousness to relieve their suffering, when despite all prior attempts at reprieve, the patient’s intolerable symptoms remain refractory. This thesis probes whether palliative sedation can be justified sufficiently at the end-of-life for the reasons set out in the literature, including existential suffering, and whether these reasons are relevant in the South African context. The research objectives were multiple. Initially, it was necessary to establish the conceptual boundaries of palliative sedation by reviewing the various definitions and guidelines available in the literature, and clarifying concepts such as refractoriness, tolerability, pain, suffering, proportionality, terminality and consciousness. The arguments pertaining to the application of palliative sedation to existential suffering were presented. Reviewing the available evidence regarding palliative sedation not hastening death, and other types of sedation and practices such as voluntary euthanasia, physicianassisted suicide and the withholding and withdrawal of nutrition and hydration helped to define the conceptual framework for palliative sedation further. Subsequently, the doctrine of double effect was critically analysed for its applicability as a moral justification of palliative sedation. In addition, analysis of other relevant moral frameworks - namely principlism, utilitarianism, Kantianism and virtue ethics - provided a broader framework for the ethical discernment of the complexities inherent to palliative sedation. Finally, the tentative suggestion was made to consider Aristotle’s “golden mean” and the concepts of tolerability and compassion being represented on a spectrum, with the healthcare practitioner and multidisciplinary team pursuing the intermediate between the extremes. This seems reasonable to equip healthcare practitioners in the South African context to strengthen their moral reasoning regarding palliative sedation. Further research is required to increase empirical knowledge relating to the practical aspects of palliative sedation implementation and guideline development, and also to clarify ethical constructs to guide healthcare practitioners navigating end-of-life decisions and to reduce their moral distress pertaining to palliative sedation.
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    Towards a renewed philosophy of nature in the West: making sense of our place in the world in conversation with Pierre Hadot
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) Fourie-Basson, Wiida Elizabeth; Du Toit, Henriëtte Louise; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy. Applied Ethics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the 1970s, the field of environmental ethics developed as a sub-discipline of philosophy in reaction to the large-scale destruction of the natural environment. Today we know, largely due to the contributions of thousands of scientists through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that humans and their activities continue to cause chronic and unprecedented environmental problems. Environmental ethicists and philosophy tended to blame anthropocentrism as an underlying attitude in Western thinking, for driving this destruction. In this thesis, I explore instead metaphysical questions concerning the nature of the human condition and our place in this world in conversation with the French philosopher, historian of philosophy and philologist, Pierre Hadot (1922-2010). It is Hadot’s contention that a revised notion of the ancient Western concept of a philosophy of nature, before it was collapsed into science per se, will enable humanity to again see the world as it is, in all its wonder and terror. He draws on Neoplatonism, a neglected reconceptualization of Platonism, for his development of such a modern philosophy of nature. In The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature (2006), Hadot excavates the original meaning of phusis (usually translated as ‘nature’), as the inexplicable surging-forth of reality, thereby providing a metaphysical foundation for the new philosophy of nature. He then proceeds to re-establish the validity of an aesthetic perception of nature in twentieth-century philosophy, drawing on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. From an epistemological perspective, he succeeds in validating aesthetic knowledge of nature on par with scientific knowledge of nature. It is not a question of the one replacing the other, or that the one is better than the other. He shows that the ancient tradition of philosophy of nature affirmed that both a scientific and an aesthetic knowledge of nature are essential for an authentic human existence on earth. For Hadot, it is not a question of being anthropocentric versus being non-anthropocentric. Rather, we have an inherently and unavoidably ambiguous relation to nature. On the one hand, the Promethean human needs to exploit nature to survive and prosper. This is the dominant tradition in the Western intellectual tradition. On the other hand, what Hadot terms the Orphic approach to nature, is based on a deep respect for nature invigorated by a living perception of it. It is this latter approach to nature in the Western tradition that needs to be restored and strengthened if we want to obtain a sustainable balance between human need and ambition and the natural world.
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    The impact of storytelling on fostering organisational coherence and a shared ethical culture
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) Meintjes, Berenice; Woerman, Minka; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy. Applied Ethics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Due to globalisation and contemporary labour laws across the world, modern organisations have become melting pots of diversity with individuals from almost every imaginable background represented within the micro-public known as the workplace. Although diversity can lead to many positive outcomes within workplaces, it is also widely understood that the results of diversity include the potential for conflict, misunderstanding, judgement, affront and discord among stakeholders and between stakeholders and the organisation, all to the detriment of organisational wellbeing. To overcome this problem, organisational members need to be unified under an overarching organisational objective with a shared understanding and shared endorsement of the organisation’s culture, vision, values, reason for existence and future ambitions. The workplace provides a unique opportunity to establish a collective understanding amongst organisational members in the sense that it is a common space where the guidelines and rules of modern labour culture intertwine with collegial and hierarchical relationships. The establishment of a congruent culture and communal moral philosophy has the potential to produce tremendous benefits for organisations both commercially as well as ethically. This thesis analyses the benefits that the use of narrative and storytelling within the organisation can have in all spheres of organisational life and how these benefits, in turn, can boost organisational performance and achievement. Specific attention is paid to the utilisation of stories to cultivate a shared understanding of organisational values and moral community within the organisation to establish a healthy ethical culture.
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    The ethics of artificial intelligence in healthcare settings
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) Obasa, Adetayo Emmanuel; Palk, Andrea; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy. Applied Ethics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform and revolutionise the healthcare industry. More specifically, it stands to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and increase productivity by providing customised and precise solutions. AI applications range from mental health to diagnosis, treatment, nursing, and hospital management. However, there are ethical concerns and obstacles that must be addressed, such as bias, data privacy, regulatory compliance, and various other ethical considerations. In this thesis, I critically apply the Principlist framework to the abovementioned issues, with the aim of incorporating AI into healthcare in a way that fosters dignity, solidarity, and trust in healthcare and technology. In a medical context, trust is critical because patients have no choice but to put themselves in the hands of healthcare practitioners who have the specialist knowledge they need. The relationship between patients and healthcare practitioners is thus one of dependency or asymmetry, whereby patients must assume that the healthcare practitioner has their best interests at heart. After applying the Principlist framework, I then use the three influential ethical theories: consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics, to consider the notion of morally competent AI in ‘robot’ form. This includes a critical consideration of human interactions with autonomous robots and some of the concerns elicited in this regard. Finally, I propose the ethics of responsibility, first introduced by Max Weber and subsequently developed by numerous influential thinkers, as a potential framework to address the ethical, legal, and social implications of AI in healthcare. I also explore the historical development of ethics of responsibility to gain valuable insight and apply these insights to AI in Healthcare. I conclude with some recommendations and insights that may be valuable for policymakers, practitioners, and the public in navigating the ethical challenges and ensuring the responsible and beneficial use of AI in healthcare settings.