•  19
    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
  •  44
    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
  •  29
    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
  •  23
    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
  •  28
    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
  •  19
    African Ethics and Journalism Ethics: News and Opinion in Light of Ubuntu
    Journal of Media Ethics 30 (2): 74-90. 2015.
    In this article, I address some central issues in journalism ethics from a fresh perspective, namely, one that is theoretical and informed by values salient in sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on a foundational moral theory with an African pedigree, which is intended to rival Western theories such as Kantianism and utilitarianism, I provide a unified account of an array of duties of various agents with respect to the news/opinion media. I maintain that the ability of the African moral theory to plaus…Read more
  •  24
    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
  •  158
    How God Could Assign Us a Purpose without Disrespect: Reply to Salles
    Quadranti - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia Contemporanea 1 (1): 99-112. 2013.
    In one of the most widely read texts on what makes a life meaningful, composed more than 50 years ago, Kurt Baier presents an intriguing argument against the view that meaning in life would come by fulfilling a purpose God has assigned us. Baier contends that God could not avoid degrading us were He to assign us a purpose, which would mean that God, as a morally ideal being by definition, would not do so. Defenders of God-centred accounts of meaning in life, and even many of its detractors such …Read more
  •  24
    Thaddeus Metz defends the retributive theory of punishment against challenges mounted by some of the contributors to this collection. People, he thinks, ought to be censured in a way that is proportional to what they have done and for which they are responsible. Understanding does not conflict with judging. On the contrary, according to him, the more we understand, the better we are able to censure appropriately. Metz’s argument is Kantian insofar as he argues that ‘respect for persons [victims,…Read more
  •  27
    I critically evaluate South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in light of a philosophical interpretation of the southern African ethic of ubuntu. Roughly, according to this moral philosophy, an act or policy is right insofar as it honours communal relationships, ones of identifying with others and exhibiting solidarity with them. After spelling out this ethical principle and the specific kind of national reconciliation it prescribes, I show that there is a powerful justification…Read more
  •  96
    Recent work in African ethics
    Journal of Moral Education 39 (3): 381-391. 2010.
    In this article I review the two books published in the last few years that would be of most interest to those researching or teaching African morality. They are African Ethics: An Anthology of Comparative and Applied Ethics and Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture, which are both collections of contemporary essays. These texts are among the first anthologies ever to appear that are strictly devoted to the values of black peoples below the Sahara, and they include many fresh …Read more
  •  3
    Two values salient in the sub-Saharan tradition that are invoked to ground the superlative, equal worth of persons and the human rights to which they are entitled are, first, vitality or 'life-force' and, second, community or relationships of identity and solidarity. This entry, which draws heavily on an article appearing in Human Rights Review (2012), sketches these two conceptions of dignity and presents an overview of key strengths and weaknesses of them.
  •  411
    This is an introduction to the special issue of Quest devoted to D. A. Masolo’s latest book, Self and Community in a Changing World. It situates this book in relation to not only Masolo’s earlier research on African philosophy but also the field more generally, sketches the central positions of the contributions to the journal issue, and in light of them makes some critical recommendations for future reflection.
  •  63
    This article considers how global ethical matters might be approached differently in the English-speaking literature if values salient in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia were taken seriously. Specifically, after pointing out how indigenous values in both of these major parts of the world tend to prescribe honouring harmonious relationships, the article brings out what such an approach to morality entails for political power, foreign relations and criminal justice. For each major issue, it sugge…Read more
  •  159
    Questioning South Africa’s ‘Genetic Link’ Requirement for Surrogacy
    South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 7 (1): 34-39. 2014.
    South African law currently forbids those seeking to arrange a surrogate motherhood agreement from creating a child that will not be genetically related to at least one of them. For a surrogacy contract to be legally valid, there must be a ‘genetic link’ between the child created through a surrogate and the parents who will raise it. Currently, this law is being challenged in the High Court of South Africa, and in this article I critically explore salient ethical facets of the dispute. I argue t…Read more
  •  88
    Respect for persons and perfectionist politics
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 30 (4). 2001.
    Can a state seek to promote a thick conception of the good (such as fostering a kind of meaning or excellence in people's lives) without treating its citizens disrespectfully? The predominant answer among friends of the principle of respect for persons is "no." The most powerful Kantian objection to non-liberalism or perfectionism is the claim that citizens who do not share the state's conception of the good would be wronged in that the state would treat a certain way of life as more important …Read more
  •  276
    I have two major aims in this chapter, which is philosophical in nature. One is to draw upon values that are salient in the southern African region in order to construct a novel and attractive conception of human dignity. Specifically, I articulate the idea that human beings have a dignity in virtue of their communal nature, or their capacity for what I call ‘identity’ and ‘solidarity’, which contrasts the most influential conception in the West, according to which our dignity inheres in our rat…Read more
  •  13
    Jus Interruptus Bellum: The Ethics of Truce-Making
    Journal of Global Ethics 13 (1): 6-13. 2017.
    With his new book, A Theory of Truces, Nir Eisikovits has succeed in producing the most comprehensive and insightful book to exist on the nature and morality of truces during international military conflict. In it he plausibly argues that thought about such conflict should avoid binary terms such as long-lasting peace and all-out war, and instead must readily acknowledge conditions “in between” them, such as cease-fires and agreements to limit belligerence to certain times. In this critical noti…Read more
  •  34
    Philosophical Papers 34 (3): 311-329. 2005.
    This article introduces a special issue of Philosophical Papers devoted to the topic of meaning in life. In the paper, I engage with articles by Robert Audi, David Velleman, John Martin Fischer, Laurence Thomas, Berit Brogaard, Barry Smith and Larry James, laying out their central views, criticizing them, and suggesting ways they could be developed.
  •  30
    Confucian Harmony from an African Perspective
    African and Asian Studies 15 (1): 1-22. 2016.
    Chenyang Li’s new book, The Philosophy of Confucian Harmony, has been heralded as the first book-length exposition of the concept of harmony in the approximately 3,000 year old Confucian tradition. It provides a systematic analysis of Confucian harmony and defence of its relevance for contemporary moral and political thought. In this philosophical discussion of Li’s book, I expound its central claims, contextualize them relative to other salient work in English-speaking Confucian thought, and cr…Read more
  •  168
    Eine Theorie nationaler Versöhnung: Einsichten aus Afrika
    Polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 34 (Supp): 219-244. 2016.
    German translation by Andreas Rauhut of 'A Theory of National Reconciliation: Some Insights from Africa' (from _Theorizing Transitional Justice_ 2015).
  •  116
    Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study
    Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3). 2015.
    Brief summary of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ and of how contributors to a special issue of the _Journal of Philosophy of Life_ question it.
  •  264
    The Nature of Reactive Practices: Exploring Strawson’s Expressivism
    South African Journal of Philosophy 27 (3): 49-63. 2008.
    I aim to answer the questions of whether reactive practices such as gratitude and punishment are inherently expressive, and, if so, in what respect. I distinguish seven ways in which one might plausibly characterize reactive practices as essentially expressive in nature, and organise them so that they progress in a dialectical order, from weakest to strongest. I then critically discuss objections that apply to the strongest conception, questioning whether it coheres with standard retributive und…Read more
  •  54
    A Theory of National Reconciliation: Some Insights from Africa
    In Claudio Corradetti, Nir Eisikovits & Jack Rotondi (eds.), Theorizing Transitional Justice, Ashgate. pp. 119-35. 2015.
    In this chapter I articulate and defend a basic principle capturing the underlying structure of an attractive sort of national reconciliation that accounts for a wide array of disparate judgments about the subject. There are extant theories of national reconciliation in the literature, most of which are informed by Kantian, liberal-democratic and similar perspectives. In contrast to these, I spell out a theory grounded on a comparatively underexplored sub-Saharan ethic. My foremost aim is to dem…Read more
  •  258
    I examine two recent books by analytic philosophers that address the underexplored topic of whether the meaning of life depends on the existence of a supernatural realm including God and a soul. John Cottingham’s On the Meaning of Life defends a supernaturalist conception of life’s meaning, whereas Kurt Baier’s Problems of Life and Death defends the opposite, naturalist perspective. I show that their respective arguments are worth serious consideration, indicate some potential weaknesses in them…Read more
  •  856
    Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study
    Oxford University Press. 2013.
    What makes a person's life meaningful? Thaddeus Metz offers a new answer to an ancient question which has recently returned to the philosophical agenda. He proceeds by examining what, if anything, all the conditions that make a life meaningful have in common. The outcome of this process is a philosophical theory of meaning in life. He starts by evaluating existing theories in terms of the classic triad of the good, the true, and the beautiful. He considers whether meaning in life might be about …Read more
  •  24
    Open Perfectionism and Global Justice
    Theoria 51 (104): 96-127. 2004.
    In his book Cosmopolitan Justice, Darrel Moellendorf argues that respect for persons has the following rough implications (among others): requires states to enact liberal legislation; permits them to interfere with religious or otherwise perfectionist regimes; forbids them from restricting immigration for perfectionist ends; and requires them to permit secession. In this article, I do not question Moellendorf's Kantian foundation; what I do here is question the inferences from this principle to …Read more
  •  42
    Das Sinnvolle und das Lebenswerte: Zur Klärung ihrer Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede
    In Matthias Hoesch, Sebastian Muders & Markus Rüther (eds.), Glück-Werte-Sinn, Walter De Gruyter. pp. 109-25. 2013.
    'The Meaningful and the Worthwhile' (Philosophical Forum 2012) translated into German by Markus Rüther.
  •  298
    The African ethic of Ubuntu/Botho: implications for research on morality
    with Joseph B. R. Gaie
    Journal of Moral Education 39 (3): 273-290. 2010.
    In this article 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 empirical research into morality. With regard to normative research, we compare and contrast …Read more
  •  43
    Accountability in Higher Education: A Comprehensive Analytical Framework
    Theory and Research in Education 9 (1): 41-58. 2011.
    Concomitant with the rise of rationalizing accountability in higher education has been an increase in theoretical reflection about the forms accountability has taken and the ones it should take. The literature is now peppered by a wide array of distinctions (e.g. internal/external, inward/ outward, vertical/horizontal, upward/downward, professional/public, political/economic, soft/ hard, positive/negative), to the point that when people speak of ‘accountability’ they risk speaking past one anoth…Read more