Masters Degrees (Philosophy)

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 206
  • Item
    Mindchangeability - Objectivity in the Time of Post-Truth Politics
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022) Froneman, Hanika; Roodt, Vasti; Smit, JP; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The post-truth lament points to a perceived decline in the objectivity of public opinion. In this thesis, I contribute to the academic discussion of post-truth politics by proposing a conceptual shift from naïve objectivity to critical objectivity. Following the critical rationalism of Karl Popper, I argue that objectivity, as a procedural norm of inquiry, is defined by a receptivity to refutation. Based on this conception, I propose a distinct approach to interpreting and ameliorating the historical problems signified by post-truth politics. Given the fact that these problems persist within the framework of modern democracy, I also address the apparent tension between a demand for objective standards in the formation of public opinion, and the democratic norms of freedom and pluralism. I advocate for a discursive approach to conceptualising the role of objective constraints in public opinion and deliberation that extends to matters of evaluative judgement. This, however, requires a response to the challenge of delineating an ideal of evaluative objective that does not succumb to the problematic assumption that there exist normative facts independent of the construction of moral-political ideals by the subjects of democratic deliberation. I address this challenge, relying on Habermasian discourse ethics to provide a basis for theorising ‘objectivity without objects’. I subsequently reintroduce the arguments for critical objectivity at the level of normative political discourse, and set out the theory of what I call ‘mindchangeability’ – a characterisation of political objectivity by means of the same critical attitude that describes critical objectivity in the context of epistemic inquiry. I explore some of the implications of this approach for addressing the deeper problems of post-truth politics – including not only the problem of misinformation, but also political polarisation.
  • Item
    Introducing a relational approach when theorising the organisation
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-11) Deister, Paul; Smit, J.P.; Woermann, M.L.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the modelling and theorising of the organisation in social theory. It is situated in the broader context of complex social systems with its specific application to theories of the firm. The thesis starts by presenting selected theories of the firm and how they are conceptualised by making use of metaphors. The thesis contends that current social modelling practices are primarily situated in the dominant social framework of individualism, and the extent of this dominance limits our view of the organisation. The thesis proposes that we retake a critical position to better acknowledge the limitations of our theories that attempt to understand social phenomena. From such a position, theorists can include a fuller framework to model the organisation and include social theories traditionally placed as secondary or derivative. The thesis suggests that when modelling the organisation, a relational social theory should be placed alongside that of individualist social theories. The thesis believes that relationalism provides a framework that has the potential to inform the task of theory creation. This relational emphasis will allow theories of the firm to more fully account for an organisation’s relational dependence. Moreover, the thesis investigates how relational mechanisms move past the traditional individualist/collectivist divide and therefore serve to connect the one and the many. To provide an example, the thesis investigates the relational ideas that function in the theories of the Triple Bottom Line, The IR Report and the Social Enterprise. The thesis then incorporates the argument that when theorising complex social phenomena, it inevitably requires making normative decisions. Here the thesis sees the decision on where to designate the borders of an entity as reliant on an individualist normative framework. In contrast, the thesis argues that a relational normative framework provides guidance when moving between different levels of theoretical abstraction. The thesis makes use of the ethics of care as a relational ethic in order to incorporate care as a central guiding practice to societal construction. To provide an example of the relational mechanism of care, the thesis makes use of the distinction between caring-about and caring-for that translates abstract concepts into specific relations and our everyday practices.
  • Item
    The ethics of data privacy
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Seynhaeve, Jeroen Arthur; Roodt, Vasti; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Technology, and in particular information and communication technology (ICT), often relies on sensitive data about people to deliver the results we want from them. There is nothing inherently wrong with this: our social, scientific, political and economic institutions and progress rely on this data, and would be seriously hampered if all data about people were considered private. However, recent technological advancements have led to a whole new relationship between people and ICT, and between ICT and privacy. As it turns out, access to vast amounts of personal data unlocks unprecedented possibilities. This has led to a plethora of new technologies that process all kinds of data about people, up to a point where our established notions of privacy struggle to keep up with technological advancements. This makes a recalibration of our relationship to technology, and in particular the role (data) privacy plays in this relationship, necessary and urgent. But before we can come up with new ways to manage privacy in relation to technology, we must first get clarity on what privacy is, and why it deserves protection. This is why this thesis starts with an overview of the current data privacy landscape and its different concepts and controversies, and with an argument for why this landscape is unprecedented. Chapters Two and Three juxtapose two different arguments for data privacy. The first claims that data privacy is justified in as far as it protects us against harm. I disagree with this claim, and argue that a harm-based approach to data privacy in a rapidly changing technological context is undermined by unreliable concepts and predictions of harm. The second argument, which I defend, claims that data privacy deserves protection because it constitutes a unique and necessary context for the protection of an underlying value: the fundamental principle of respect for persons. The method I propose for managing data privacy is derived from this second argument: rather than weighing up costs and benefits, we must deliberate moral values and practical concerns that are at stake when we evaluate data privacy dilemmas, and test the outcomes of our deliberations against the principle of respect for persons.
  • Item
    A biomedically-enhanced body-subject? A critical analysis of the reconcilability of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ideas with current-day claims about biomedical enhancement
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-09) Gardner, Sarah; Van Niekerk, Anton A.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research project aims to reconcile Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s body-subject with current-day claims about biomedical enhancement. Arguably the biggest technological development of the 21st century, biomedical enhancement promises to re-engineer the body on multiple fronts, including interventions aimed at physical capacities, emotional dispositions and even life-extension. Of course, promises as such beckon an onslaught of opinions and debate from bio-ethicists and philosophers alike, meaning that there is no shortage of literature on the permissibility of the project. This being said, the ramifications that biomedical enhancements could have on our actual, lived experience have yet to be considered. This thesis aims to rectify this oversight by considering the impact that biomedical enhancements of the physical kind could have on Merleau-Ponty’s body-subject. Being a phenomenological theory that centres around the corporeal form, the body-subject becomes a catalyst for revealing the intricate nuances of human beings that will inevitably be impacted upon if physical enhancement interventions are pursued. Using the insights gained from Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, this thesis argues that the enhancement enterprise as such should be embraced to protect the integrity of the body-subject. This follows from the importance Merleau-Ponty affords to the relationship between the body and the world, such that the two must remain in ‘balance’ for perception to occur normally. It is shown that this balance has already been compromised owing to the furious pace at which we continue to ‘enhance’ our environment – the resulting discordance between human evolution and environmental development has thus already problematized the body/world relationship. In order to correct this balance, this thesis argues in favour of (restrictively) enhancing the body-subject so that it is properly suited to the environment of the 21st century. This is accomplished via applications of the relevant enhancement intervention to the body-subject, in-depth analyses of the delicate relationship between the body and the world, the discordance between our own evolution and the development of the environment, and the argument that perception can be safe-guarded once again by embracing the restrictive enhancement enterprise.
  • Item
    An explanation for the emerging shift from compliance culture to ethical culture in the financial industry
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Bezuidenhout, Stephan; Rossouw, Deon; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Financial services are an important and influential sector of every economy, contributing significantly to global economic activity. A stable and sustainable financial sector is, therefore, critical for global economic growth and socio-economic development. To explain the emerging shift from a compliance culture to an ethical culture in financial services, the study begins with a literature review of the corporate scandals involving Enron and WorldCom. Although Enron and WorldCom were not in the financial services sector and certainly not the first corporate failures, they marked the beginning of a period of significant regulatory reform by supervisors and regulators in response to ongoing systemic and corporate failures. The study continues its literature review of how, despite regulatory efforts to prevent future scandals and losses through reforms, the financial services sector’s conduct has remained largely unchanged. Financial institutions' sole focus on profit, distorted incentives for bankers, and regulators' restrictive and narrow approach to reforms have all contributed to the state of the sector. In order to deal with the restrictive reforms, the study reviews how financial institutions developed sophisticated compliance programmes designed to mitigate the risk of regulatory sanction and reputational harm. The compliance culture that evolved within these institutions proved ineffective, resulting in significant unintended consequences and an inability to adequately address poor governance and prevent corporate failures in a sustainable way. The study examines these inefficiencies, their effects, and how regulators proposed addressing the compliance culture's 'dark side'. The study further explains the motivations for the emerging shift from a compliance culture to an ethical culture against the background of how regulators and industry groups have started to call on the financial services industry to reconsider its approach and embrace an ethical culture. The study finds that regulatory frameworks alone are insufficient to address the sector's unethical practices, and approaches that promote ethical behaviour of financial institutions are necessary. In conclusion, this study considers the advantages for organisations that make the transformation to an ethical culture.