Abstracts of Dissertations / Theses
    Advised at AU and NUL


  • The modern day environmental crisis is a complex social problem that needs to be addressed in a multi-disciplinary manner involving scientific, social, political, economic and religious commitment and collaboration. Theravada Buddhism as an ancient and reputable religious system can contribute to addressing the environmental crisis by offering a cohesive and practical environmental spirituality for its followers as well as for those who admire Theravada Buddhist philosophy. This research project proposes a three step process in developing and affirming a well-rounded Theravada Buddhist environmental spirituality. The process begins with examining the state of human-nature relationship, especially the negative aspects of this relationship as a result of human moral and spiritual degeneration. The next step involves presenting ways of envisioning a healthy and wholesome human-nature relationship supported by fundamental Buddhist teachings. Finally, a path is offered as to how such a vision of harmonious human-nature relationship may be accomplished within the Theravada Buddhist framework. This three-step process highlights the two essential dimensions of Theravada Buddhism—the relational dimension and the developmental dimension. The relational dimension emphasizes the reality of human existence in relationship with others, including the natural environment. The developmental dimension highlights the need for personal self-cultivation and transformation in order for human beings to live out these relationships in such a way that promotes well-being for others, and at the same time, is beneficial towards our goals for spiritual progress and ultimate happiness. This dissertation argues that these two dimensions must be upheld together in order for a Buddhist environmental spirituality to exist. It also argues that the effort to cultivate oneself and to enter into healthy and wholesome relationship with nature is part and parcel of the entire Buddhist spiritual pedagogy that aims towards authentic happiness and emancipation.
  • Gadamer on Dialogue: A Critical Study

  • (Dissertation completed 2014 at Assumption University, Graduate School of Philosophy & Religion)

    Dr. Sombat Phornsiricharoenphant

    Engaging in dialogue with the traditional attitude, and perceiving dialogue as a technique or as an instrumental value (a means to an end), is really required, but not sufficient, because the means or dialogue itself may be rejected if one distrusts the intention of other interlocutors who may use dialogue under the domination of certain methodologies (the subject-object schema) as per their own wills (subjectivity, subjective reflection). In this paradigm, the task of dialogue is to focus on answering the question of how to understand the speaker’s/interlocutor’s mind and intention through the use of dialogue. The notion of dialogue according to Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics illuminates an alternative insight upon the ontological aspect of dialogue and understanding toward the human life and experience in this world. From this insight, the dissertation uses it as a platform to construct the essential characteristics of genuine dialogue that has value in itself (intrinsic value). In this context, the primary task of practicing dialogue has shifted from functioning as a technique (methodical approach) to seek for the understanding of the substantive meaning and the truth that is claimed by the subject matter of dialogue through the dialectic (the art of questioning and seeking truth). Based on this conviction, it may open and provide a promising possibility of building a culture of genuine, sincere and constructive dialogue among the plurality and diversity of human beings-in-the-world.
  • African Philosophical Conceptions of a Good Life

  • (Dissertation completed 2013 at Assumption University, Graduate School of Philosophy & Religion)

    Fr. Dr. Daniel Aigbona, C.Ss.R

    This dissertation is written with a view to examining the conception of the good life from the unique perspective of an African individual. At the heart of this dissertation is the continuous quest to discover what it means to both African and human in the fullest sense of living a good life in a global and multicultural world that presents us with a multiplicity of choices. Is the possession of wealth or good health a reasonable measure of how one can determine the quality of life such that it can be described as a happy and good life? What does it mean to live a good life and is this the same thing as living a happy and fulfilled life i.e., a state of well-being? The presumption here is that as a human individual belonging to a social and cultural group, I do already have a system of values and moral norms which have shaped my opinion and judgment up till this moment. These values have informed my worldview and have helped me to both survive and adapt to an ever changing world order. Are such principles still useful to me today and are they such that can be universally applicable in a multicultural environment as the world is today? The concerns raised in this dissertation are not just moral issues of a normative nature asking questions and seeking answers to the central and enduring concerns of the African and human community but have also assumed a global significance enough for the United Nations to commission a group of international experts to produce a world report (2012 and 2013) on the level of world happiness across nations on earth. This dissertation is therefore written with the aim of establishing what would constitute a just and good society built on models of excellence and effective paradigms of beneficial human relations that is constantly in dialogue with African cultures and the rest of the world’s diverse cultures.
  • The Justifiability of Force in Relation to Cyber War: A Pragmatic Approach to the Use Of Force Debate

  • (MA Research Paper completed 2013 at Assumption University, Graduate School of Philosophy & Religion)

    Taylor Hargrave, M.A.

    The unique nature of the threat and the ability for cyberwar practitioners to inflict injury, death, and physical destruction via cyberspace strains traditional definitions of the use of force under Article 2(4) of the United Nations (UN) Charter. A general consensus has been accepted that certain cyber acts do constitute a use of force, however they are determined after the fact and the factors which are used in determining are not unilaterally agreed upon. Before the advent of Estonia conflict and Stuxnet, cyber war was thought to be largely theoretical, as were the analytic frameworks in which cyber actions are gauged. This paper will address pertinent key issues surrounding the use of force, with the goal of providing a pragmatic account of how cyber warfare is an emerging and very real issue that demands scholarly attention, not only from the legal fields but also from the philosophical community.
  • A Philosophical Assessment of Terrorism and its Moral Justifications Developed in the Light of Just War Theory

  • (MA Thesis, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, National University, Lesotho, 2005-2006)

    Khothatso Tsooana, M.A. (Lesotho Police Commissioner)

    Political power contributes in defining terrorism and classifying terrorists. Terrorism is a problem in every day life, today walking in the streets of Colombo, Baghdad, London, New York can be very risky. Some Muslims innocently suffer because of what is called “War on Terror”, which very often fails to discriminate between Islam and Islamism. Hype in media seems to promote terrorism. Terrorism is also a problem in politics as it involves attaining, maintaining, preventing or changing political ends. Furthermore, terrorism is a problem in philosophy as it raises ethical questions on the killings of people: What is a value of human life? Can people be targeted deliberately? However, there are incidents that terrorism is solely directed against property and those who can be considered to deserve attacks on moral grounds (Young). The relation between terrorism and human rights is of crucial importance to understand terrorism in that problematic relation. Terrorism violates human rights such as the right to life, liberty, property, security of person and others. On the other hand violations of human rights can be a cause of terrorism. In this sense, human rights violations precede terrorism. Terrorism here is understood as a responding strategy especially where there are no higher authorities to stop oppression and injustices. The elements of terrorism cover the following aspects; subjectivity of the concept, terrorism aiming at innocents or non-deserving targets, disregarding human life, terrorism as an act of criminal offence. Terrorism can come from “above” or “below” and it is also used to justify certain invasions of other countries. Additionally terrorism is understood as a random activity. It is further viewed as a revolutionary violence. Terrorism has a network or viral structure which aims at certain symbolic targets (Baudrillard). It creates possible choices when fighting against the opponent, sometimes through misusing everyday technology. Lastly, terrorism has two targets (bifocality) which are immediate and mediate targets (Primoratz; Khatchadourian). The essential elements of terrorism are; firstly, aiming at social, economical and political ends. Secondly, the role of violence – that seems to be inherent in the notion of terrorism – plays a crucial role in the discussion of terrorism. Thirdly, it is further important to expose an aspect of frightening or causing great fear among the people. Fourthly, terrorism is a fighting strategy. These essential elements are used to derive and construct the definition of terrorism. Thus terrorism can be defined as the terrifying violent strategy or the threat of violence against persons and/or property with the aim of attaining, maintaining or preventing social, political and/or economical changes. After applying Just War Theory to terrorism the rules which are derived from this application are applied to two case studies which focus on September 11 Attacks in the United States and terrorism in the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka.