Financial markets have always been a great interest of mine. Except, being a philosophy student, I was always more interested in learning about finance whilst applying philosophical rigor to the field. For many years, I yearned to synthesize my two interests—philosophy and finance—and struggled to find others who found a worthwhile link between the two fields as well. I constantly questioned why developing a philosophy of various financial markets, financial instruments, and valuation methods, was not popular amongst philosophy departments. After all, philosophy is in, many cases, an interdisciplinary subject, and it can be used to tests the limits of understanding and logical foundations in various natural sciences, social sciences, and arts.
The Laidlaw Intership Programme gave me the extraordinarily unique opportunity to develop the philosophy of financial instruments—in particular stock option derivatives. Insofar as this blog entry is coming at the end of the internship programme, I have the benefit of hindsight to reflect on both my research and the leadership weekends I participated in. Overall, both my research and the leadership programme enabled me to become much more effective at time-management skills, as well as develop greater confidence in my research abilities.
My initial research plan was to examine the underlying assumptions and conceptual foundations found in stock market prediction methods. Nevertheless, about a week into my research I discovered that this topic was far to broad to cover in this internship, and would be more suitable for a doctorate thesis. Instead, I decided to focus my research on only one type of financial instrument—stock options—and consider George Soros’ philosophical framework with respect to them. This research required me to read a great deal of financial literature to obtain a greater understanding of the structure and uses of stock options, so I quickly found myself immersed in the finance section of the library, rather than philosophy! Gaining a detailed and accurate understanding of stock options, as well as George Soros’ philosophy of financial markets presented the greatest challenge to me. In virtue of this challenge, I learned how to compartmentalize my research in order to achieve my research goals in the limited time I had. In the end, I was able to manage my time well enough so that not only did I gain a very specialized understanding of stock options, but I was also able to develop a novel application of Soros’ theory of reflexivity to stock options. This previously unforeseen application of Soros’ theory has has given me the confidence to continue pursuing research in the field beyond my undergraduate career into postgraduate studies.