•  63
    Confucianism and African Philosophy
    In Toyin Falola & Adeshina Afolayan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 207-222. 2017.
    A reprint in English of 'Confucianism and African Conceptions of Value, Reality and Knowledge' (International Social Science Journal, Chinese Edition, 2016).
  •  203
    Utilitarianism and the Meaning of Life
    Utilitas 15 (1): 50-70. 2003.
    This article addresses the utilitarian theory of life's meaning according to which a person's existence is significant just in so far as she makes those in the world better off. One aim is to explore the extent to which the utilitarian theory has counter-intuitive implications about which lives count as meaningful. A second aim is to develop a new, broadly Kantian theory of what makes a life meaningful, a theory that retains much of what makes the utilitarian view attractive, while avoiding the …Read more
  •  25
    Cultural Pluralism and Its Implications for Media Ethics
    In Patrick Plaisance (ed.), Communication and Media Ethics, De Gruyter. pp. 53-73. 2018.
    In the face of differences between the ethical religio-philosophies believed across the globe, how should a media ethicist theorize or make recommendations in the light of theory? One approach is relativist, taking each distinct moral worldview to be true only for its own people. A second approach is universalist, seeking to discover a handful of basic ethical principles that are already shared by all the world's peoples. After providing reasons to doubt both of these approaches to doing media e…Read more
  •  478
    For the Sake of the Friendship: Relationality and Relationship as Grounds of Beneficence
    Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 57 (125): 54-76. 2010.
    I contend that there are important moral reasons for individuals, organisations and states to aid others that have gone largely unrecognised in the literature. Most of the acknowledged reasons for acting beneficently in the absence of a promise to do so are either impartial and intrinsic, on the one hand, being grounded in properties internal to and universal among individuals, such as their pleasure or autonomy, or partial and extrinsic, on the other, being grounded in non-universal properties …Read more
  •  46
    Questioning African Attempts to Ground Ethics on Metaphysics
    In John Bewaji & Elvis Imafidon (eds.), Ontologized Ethics: New Essays in African Meta-Ethics, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 189-204. 2013.
    In the literature on African moral philosophy, it is common to find normative conclusions about the way we ought to act directly drawn from purported metaphysical facts about the nature of ourselves and the world. For example, Kwame Gyekye, the most influential sub-Saharan political philosopher, attempts to defend moderate communitarianism, roughly the view that agents have strong duties to support others in ways that do not violate human rights, by contending that it follows from the dual natur…Read more
  •  67
    These are major excerpts from an interview that was conducted with Professor Kwasi Wiredu at Rhodes University during the 13th Annual Conference of The International Society for African Philosophy and Studies in 2007. He speaks on a wide range of issues such as political and personal identity, racism and tribalism, moral foundations, the Golden Rule, African communalism, human rights, personhood, consensus, meta-philosophy, amongst other critical themes.
  •  901
    The Motivation for “Toward an African Moral Theory”
    South African Journal of Philosophy 26 (26): 331-335. 2007.
    Here I introduce the symposium issue of the South African Journal of Philosophy that is devoted to critically analysing my article “Toward an AfricanMoral Theory.” In that article, I use the techniques of analytic moral philosophy to articulate and defend a moral theory that both is grounded on the values of peoples living in sub-Saharan Africa and differs from what is influential in contemporary Western ethics. Here, I not only present a précis of the article, but also provide a sketch of why I…Read more
  •  61
    A communitarian perspective, which is characteristic of African normative thought, accords some kind of primacy to society or a group, whereas human rights are by definition duties that others have to treat individuals in certain ways, even when not doing so would be better for others. Is there any place for human rights in an Afro-communitarian political and legal philosophy, and, if so, what is it? I seek to answer these questions, in part by critically exploring one of the most influential th…Read more
  •  46
    Censure theory and intuitions about punishment
    Law and Philosophy 19 (4): 491-512. 2000.
    Many philosophers and laypeople have the following two intuitions about legal punishment: the state has a pro tanto moral reason to punish all those guilty of breaking a just law and to do so in proportion to their guilt. Accepting that there can be overriding considerations not to punish all the guilty in proportion to their guilt, many philosophers still consider it a strike against any theory if it does not imply that there is always a supportive moral reason to do so. In this paper, I demons…Read more
  •  304
    Odnajdowanie sensu w jego poszukiwaniu
    Filozofuj! 2 9-11. 2015.
    Polish translation of mildly revised versions of the introductory and closing pages of _Meaning in Life_.
  •  83
    God, Soul and the Meaning of Life
    Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    Part of the Elements Philosophy of Religion series, this short book focuses on the spiritual dimensions of life’s meaning as they have been discussed in the recent English and mainly analytic philosophical literature. The overarching philosophical question that this literature has addressed is about the extent to which, and respects in which, spiritual realities such as God or a soul would confer meaning on our lives. There have been four broad answers to the question, namely: God or a soul is n…Read more
  •  149
    Are Lives Worth Creating?
    Philosophical Papers 40 (2): 233-255. 2011.
    In his book Better Never to Have Been, David Benatar argues that it is generally all things considered wrong to procreate, such that if everyone acted in a morally ideal way, humanity would elect to extinguish the species. I aim to carefully question the premises and inferences that lead Benatar to draw this anti-natalist conclusion, indicating several places where one could sensibly elect to disembark from the train of argument heading toward such a radical view.
  •  128
    The Virtues of African Ethics
    In Stan van Hooft (ed.), The Handbook of Virtue Ethics, Acumen Publishing. 2013.
    Since its inception as a professional field in the 1960s or so, African ethics has been neglected not only by virtue ethicists, but also by international scholars in moral philosophy generally. This is unfortunate, since sub-Saharan normative perspectives are characteristically virtue-centred, and, furthermore, are both different from traditional Western forms and just as worth taking seriously as they are. In my contribution, I spell out the two major respects in which virtue is a salient theme…Read more
  •  18
    Introduction and Concluding Recommendations
    with Hester du Plessis
    In Hester du Plessis (ed.), The Rise and Decline and Rise of China: Searching for an Organising Philosophy, Real African Publishers. 2015.
    Reflections on recent Chinese socio-economic development, insofar as it has been influenced by values, especially Confucianism, and what lessons there are to be learned for understanding sub-Saharan African values and how best to develop in that context.
  •  570
    A Life of Struggle as Ubuntu
    In Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni & Busani Ngcaweni (eds.), Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Decolonial Ethics of Liberation and Servant Leadership, Africa World Press. pp. 97-111. 2018.
    In this chapter I aim to provide a moral-philosophical grounding for much of Nelson Rolihlaha Mandela’s life. I spell out a principled interpretation of ubuntu that focuses on its moral import, and then apply it to salient facets of Mandela’s 50+ struggle years, contending that they exemplify it in many ways. Specifically, I first address Mandela’s decisions to fight apartheid in the 1940s, to use violence in response to it in the 1950s and ‘60s, and to refuse to renounce the use of violence dur…Read more
  •  66
    The Ethics and Politics of the Brain Drain: A Communal Alternative to Liberal Perspectives
    South African Journal of Philosophy 36 (1): 101-114. 2017.
    In Debating Brain Drain, Gillian Brock and Michael Blake both draw on a liberal moral- political foundation to address the issue, but they come to different conclusions about it. Despite the common ground of free and equal persons having a dignity that grounds human rights, Brock concludes that many medical professionals who leave a developing country soon after having received training there are wrong to do so and that the state may place some limits on their ability to exit, whereas Blake infe…Read more
  •  110
    The Politics of Doing Philosophy in Africa: A Conversation
    with Ward E. Jones
    South African Journal of Philosophy 34 (4): 538-550. 2015.
    The background to the present discussion is the prevalence of political and personal criticisms in philosophical discussions about Africa. As philosophers in South Africa—both white and black—continue to philosophise seriously about Africa, responses to their work sometimes take the form of political and personal criticisms of, if not attacks on, the philosopher exploring and defending considerations about the African continent. One of us (TM) has been the target of such critiques in light of hi…Read more
  •  13
    Human Dignity, Capital Punishment, and an African Moral Theory (repr.)
    In Luis Arroyo, Paloma Biglino & William Schabas (eds.), Towards Universal Abolition of the Death Penalty, Tirant Lo Blanch. pp. 337-366. 2010.
    In this chapter, a reprint of an article initially appearing in the Journal of Human Rights (2010), I spell out a conception of dignity grounded on African moral thinking that provides a plausible philosophical foundation for human rights, focusing on the particular human right not to be executed by the state. I first demonstrate that the South African Constitutional Court’s sub-Saharan explanations of why the death penalty is degrading all counterintuitively entail that using deadly force again…Read more
  •  28
    Justice and the Law
    In Christopher Roederer & Darrel Moellendorf (eds.), Jurisprudence, Juta. pp. 382-411. 2004.
    This chapter discusses major theories of domestic justice in the context of South African Constitutional, statutory and case law. It begins by considering when it is permissible for legislators to restrict civil liberty. South Africa's Parliament has criminalised prostitution, liquor sales on Sundays and marijuana use, actions that few liberals would say should be illegal. However, South African law permits abortion, gambling and homosexual relationships, which many conservatives would criminali…Read more
  •  91
    Teaching African Philosophy alongside Western Philosophy: Some Advice about Topics and Texts
    South African Journal of Philosophy 35 (4): 490-500. 2016.
    In this article, I offer concrete suggestions about which topics, texts, positions, arguments and authors from the African philosophical tradition one could usefully put into conversation with ones from the Western, especially the Anglo-American. In particular, I focus on materials that would make for revealing and productive contrasts between the two traditions. My aim is not to argue that one should teach by creating critical dialogue between African and Western philosophers, but rather is to …Read more
  •  84
    African Ethics
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Blackwell. pp. 129-38. 2013.
    I critically discuss contemporary work in African, i.e., sub-Saharan, moral philosophy that has been written in English. I begin by providing an overview of the profession, after which I consider some of the major issues in normative ethics, then discuss a few of the more noteworthy research in applied ethics, and finally take up the key issues in meta-ethics. My aim is to highlight discussions that should be of interest to an ethicist working anywhere in the world, focusing on ideas characteris…Read more
  •  87
    A critical overview of some central work on the meta-ethical question of what the question of life's meaning means, as appearing in Joshua Seachris, ed., Exploring the Meaning of Life: An Anthology and Guide. It discusses contributions from Paul Edwards, R. W. Hepburn, Robert Nozick, Garrett Thomson, Arjan Markus and Thaddeus Metz.
  •  12
    Influential moral theories in the contemporary West face problems making sense of the conflict between the interests of animals and people’s interests in culture. They have trouble explaining either the existence of strong direct duties to animals or the importance of people’s right to culture (and frequently both). In this chapter I aim to advance a relational ethic, grounded on the African philosophical tradition, that offers a promising alternative. I contend that duties toward animals and ri…Read more
  •  89
    In this article I spell out a conception of dignity grounded in African moral thinking that provides a plausible philosophical foundation for human rights, focusing on the particular human right not to be executed by the state. I first demonstrate that the South African Constitutional Court’s sub-Saharan explanations of why the death penalty is degrading all counterintuitively entail that using deadly force against aggressors is degrading as well. Then, I draw on one major strand of Afro-communi…Read more
  •  209
    I seek to advance enquiry into the philosophical question of in virtue of what human beings have a dignity of the sort that grounds human rights. I first draw on values salient in sub-Saharan African moral thought to construct two theoretically promising conceptions of human dignity, one grounded on vitality, or liveliness, and the other on our communal nature. I then argue that the vitality conception cannot account for several human rights that we intuitively have, while the community concepti…Read more
  •  15
    Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study (repr.)
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8 (2): 1--4. 2016.
    A brief summary of the main claims advanced in Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study, largely cribbed from the Journal of Philosophy of Life (2015).
  •  17
    Translation of 'The Meaning of Life' (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) into Persian by Abdulfazl Tavakoli Shandiz. Printed as a booklet.
  •  39
    The Reasonable and the Moral
    Social Theory and Practice 28 (2): 277-301. 2002.