•  106
    African and western moral theories in a bioethical context
    Developing World Bioethics 10 (1): 49-58. 2010.
    The field of bioethics is replete with applications of moral theories such as utilitarianism and Kantianism. For a given dilemma, even if it is not clear how one of these western philosophical principles of right (and wrong) action would resolve it, one can identify many of the considerations that each would conclude is relevant. The field is, in contrast, largely unaware of an African account of what all right (and wrong) actions have in common and of the sorts of factors that for it are german…Read more
  •  22
    How to Deal with Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Light of an African Ethic
    Developing World Bioethics 18 (3): 233-240. 2018.
    Many countries in Africa, and more generally those in the Global South with tropical areas, are plagued by illnesses that the wealthier parts of the world (mainly ‘the West’) neither suffer from nor put systematic effort into preventing, treating or curing. What does an ethic with a recognizably African pedigree entail for the ways various agents ought to respond to such diseases? As many readers will know, a characteristically African ethic prescribes weighty duties to aid on the part of those …Read more
  •  52
    Legal Punishment
    In Christopher Roederer & Darrel Moellendorf (eds.), Jurisprudence, Juta. pp. 555-87. 2004.
    We seek to outline philosophical answers to the questions of why punish, whom to punish and how much to punish, with illustrations from the South African legal system. We begin by examining the differences between forward- and backward-looking moral theories of legal punishment, their strengths and also their weaknesses. Then, we ascertain to which theory, if any, contemporary South Africa largely conforms. Finally, we discuss several matters of controversy in South Africa in the context of forw…Read more
  •  59
    Review of Ethics & AIDS in Africa (review)
    South African Journal of Philosophy 25 (4): 369-71. 2006.
  •  19
    The African Ethic of Ubuntu/Botho (repr.)
    with Joseph Gaie
    In Sharlene Swarz & Monica Taylor (eds.), Moral Education in Sub-Saharan Africa, Routledge. pp. 7-24. 2011.
    In this chapter, a reprint of an article initially appearing in the Journal of Moral Education (2010), we provide a theoretical reconstruction of sub-Saharan ethics that we argue is a strong competitor to typical Western approaches to morality. According to our African moral theory, actions are right roughly insofar as they are a matter of living harmoniously with others or honouring communal relationships. After spelling out this ethic, we apply it to several issues in both normative and empiri…Read more
  •  31
    Over the last two decades, the capabilities approach has become an increasingly influential theory of development. It conceptualises human wellbeing in terms of an individual's ability to achieve functionings we have reason to value. In contrast, the African ethic of ubuntu views human flourishing as the propensity to pursue relations of fellowship with others, such that relationships have fundamental value. These two theoretical perspectives seem to be in tension with each other; while the capa…Read more
  •  316
    God’s Role in a Meaningful Life: New Reflections from Tim Mawson
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (3): 171-191. 2018.
    Characteristic of the contemporary field of life's meaning has been the combination of monism in method and naturalism in substance. That is, much of the field has sought to reduce enquiry into life's meaning to one question and to offer a single principle as an answer to it, with this principle typically focusing on ways of living in the physical world as best known by the scientific method. T. J. Mawson's new book, God and the Meanings of Life, provides fresh reason to doubt both this form and…Read more
  •  19
    Reprint of an article initially appearing in Educational Philosophy and Theory (2015).
  •  53
    The Nature of Poverty as an Inhuman Condition
    Res Publica 22 (3): 327-342. 2016.
    In this article, part of a symposium devoted to Hennie Lötter’s Poverty, Ethics and Justice, my aims are threefold. First, I present a careful reading of Lötter’s original and compelling central conception of the nature of poverty as the inability to ‘obtain adequate economic resources….to maintain physical health and engage in social activities distinctive of human beings in their respective societies’. After motivating this view, particularly in comparison to other salient accounts of poverty,…Read more
  •  89
    Review of Todd May, A Significant Life (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 8 (19): 0. 2015.
    Approx. 2000 word review of Todd May's _A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe_ (University of Chicago Press)
  •  205
    Henry Richardson has recently published the first book ever devoted to ancillary care obligations, which roughly concern what medical researchers are morally required to provide to participants beyond what safety requires. In it Richardson notes that he has presented the ‘only fully elaborated view out there’ on this topic, which he calls the ‘partial-entrustment model’. In this article, I provide a new theory of ancillary care obligations, one that is grounded on ideals of communion salient in …Read more
  •  56
    Developing African Political Philosophy: Moral-Theoretic Strategies
    Philosophia Africana 14 (1): 61-83. 2012.
    If contemporary African political philosophy is going to develop substantially in fresh directions, it probably will not be enough, say, to rehash the old personhood debate between Kwame Gyekye and Ifeanyi Menkiti, or to nit-pick at Gyekye’s system, as much of the literature in the field has done. Instead, major advances are likely to emerge on the basis of new, principled interpretations of sub-Saharan moral thought. In recent work, I have fleshed out two types of moral theories that have a cle…Read more
  •  163
    God, Morality and the Meaning of Life
    In Samantha Vice & Nafsika Athanassoulis (eds.), The Moral Life: Essays in Honour of John Cottingham, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 201-227. 2008.
    In this chapter, I critically explore John Cottingham's most powerful argument for the thesis that the existence of God is necessary for meaning in life. This is the argument that life would be meaningless without an invariant morality, which could come only from God. After demonstrating that Cottingham's God-based ethic can avoid not only many traditional Euthyphro meta-ethical concerns, but also objections at the normative level, I consider whether it can entail the unique respect in which mor…Read more
  •  482
    The Ethics of Routine HIV Testing: A Respect-Based Analysis
    South African Journal on Human Rights 21 (3): 370-405. 2005.
    Routine testing is a practice whereby medical professionals ask all patients whether they would like an HIV test, regardless of whether there is anything unique to a given patient that suggests the presence of HIV. In three respects I aim to offer a fresh perspective on the debate about whether a developing country with a high rate of HIV infection morally ought to adopt routine testing. First, I present a neat framework that organises the moral issues at stake, bringing out the basic principles…Read more
  •  333
    Realism and the Censure Theory of Punishment
    In Patricia Smith & Paolo Comanducci (eds.), Legal Philosophy: General Aspects, Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 117-29. 2002.
    I focus on the metaphysical underpinnings of the censure theory of punishment, according to which punishment is justified if and because it expresses disapproval of injustice. Specifically, I seek to answer the question of what makes claims about proportionate censure true or false. In virtue of what is it the case that one form of censure is stronger than another, or that punishment is the censure fitting injustice? Are these propositions true merely because of social conventions, as per the do…Read more
  •  191
    آثار جدید درباره معناى زندگى (Persian: 'Recent Work on the Meaning of Life’)
    Naqd Va Nazar: Quarterly Journal of Philosophy and Theology 8 (29-30): 266-313. 2003.
    Persian translation by Mohsen Javadi of 'Recent Work on the Meaning of Life' (first published in Ethics 2002).
  •  14
    Ubuntu and the Value of Self-Expression in the Mass Media
    Communicatio 41 (3): 388-403. 2015.
    In this article I consider what the implications of ubuntu, interpreted as an African moral philosophy, are for self-expression as a value that the media could help to promote. In contrast to the natural hunches that self-expression is merely a kind of narcissism or makes sense for only individualist cultures to prize, I argue that an attractive construal of ubuntu entails that self-expression can play an important communitarian role. The mass media can be obligated to enable people to express t…Read more
  •  259
    Confucianism and African Conceptions of Value, Reality and Knowledge (儒家思想与非洲的价值观、现实 观与知识观)
    International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition 国际社会科学杂志) 33 (4): 159-170. 2016.
    This article, translated into Chinese by Tian Kaifang, summarizes and critically reflects on the current state of the literature that has recently begun to put Chinese Confucianism into dialogue with characteristically African conceptions of what is good, what fundamentally exists, and how to obtain knowledge. As most of this literature has addressed value theory, this article focuses largely on it, too. It first illustrates how similar the foundational values are between the two cultural tradit…Read more
  •  68
    In an article previously published in this journal, Phillip Montague critically surveys and rejects a handful of contemporary attempts to explain why state punishment is morally justified. Among those targeted is one of my defences of the censure theory of punishment, according to which state punishment is justified because the political community has a duty to express disapproval of those guilty of injustice. My defence of censure theory supposes, per argumentum, that there is always some defea…Read more
  •  62
    A reply to five critical discussions of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ (2013).
  •  24
    In Deen Chatterjee (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Justice, Springer. pp. 915-17. 2012.
    A large majority of theoretical debate with regard to criminal justice at the global level has been concerned to identify which kinds of punishment of international agents are morally sound. Three key issues have been: (1) international sentencing, which concerns the rightness of international tribunals to prosecute what might be called ‘large-scale’ or ‘humanitarian’ crimes; (2) extraterritorial punishment, most topically regarding the appropriateness of a state punishing a foreign national for…Read more
  •  33
    The Meaning of Life, Revised Edition
    In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University. 2013.
    An updated version of the initial, 2007 entry, adding in discussion of key works that have appeared since then.
  •  49
    Values in China as Compared to Africa: Two Conceptions of Harmony
    Philosophy East and West 67 (2): 441-465. 2017.
    Given a 21st century context of sophisticated market economies and other Western influences such as Christianity, what similarities and differences are there between characteristic indigenous values of sub-Saharan Africa and China, and how do they continue to influence everyday life in these societies? Establishing that central to both non-Western, indigenous value systems are ideals of harmonious relationships, I compare and contrast traditional African and Chinese conceptions of harmony and an…Read more
  •  78
    Relational Ethics
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 1-10. 2016.
    An overview of relational approaches to ethics, which contrast with individualist and holist ones, particularly as they feature in the Confucian, African, and feminist/care traditions.
  •  30
    Meaning in Life as the Right Metric
    Society 53 (2): 294-296. 2016.
    In “Happiness Is the Wrong Metric,” Amitai Etzioni largely argues that human beings are motivated by more than just their own happiness, whether conceived in terms of pleasant experiences or fulfilled preferences, and that the state should attend to more than merely people’s happiness. He contends that people are often disposed to seek out, and that public policy ought to promote, what is morally right and good. While not disagreeing with this thrust of Etzioni’s position, I maintain in my contr…Read more
  •  25
    Review of Heidi Hurd, Moral Combat (review)
    Philosophical Review 110 (3): 434-436. 2001.
    It appears that it would almost always be wrong to punish a person for having performed a morally justified action. The axiom of “weak retributivism” maintains that the state must not routinely punish those who have not broken a just law. However, it seems that respect for the rule of law and for majority rule requires government officials to punish individuals for breaking laws that may be somewhat unjust. An impartial and democratic state could not function if individuals flouted institutional…Read more
  •  29
    Many readers will share the judgment that, having made an oath, there is something morally worse about consequently performing the immoral action, such as embezzling, that one swore not to do. Why would it be worse? To answer this question, I consider three moral-theoretic accounts of why it is “extra” wrong to violate oaths not to perform wrong actions, with special attention paid to those made in economic contexts. Specifically, I address what the moral theories of utilitarianism, Kantianism a…Read more
  •  22
    African Philosophy as a Multidisciplinary Discourse
    In Toyin Falola & Adeshina Afolayan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 795-812. 2017.
    Philosophy is often labelled the ‘Queen of the Sciences’, meaning that it not merely gave birth to most other disciplines, but also has continued to influence their course. This chapter proceeds on these assumptions as well as the idea that post-independence, academic African philosophy ought to shape the development of other disciplines. It addresses the clusters of Law/Politics, Business/Management, Economics/Development Studies, Sociology/Anthropology, Psychology/Medicine, Education, Religiou…Read more
  •  28
    I consider what prima facie attractive communitarian ethical perspectives salient among indigenous African peoples entail for distributive justice within a state, and I argue that they support a form of economic egalitarianism that differs in several important ways from varieties common in contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy. In particular, the sort of economic egalitarianism I advance rivals not only luck-oriented variants from the likes of Ronald Dworkin, G. A. Cohen and theorists…Read more