•  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
  •  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
  •  210
    A lengthy reply to several critical discussions of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ appearing in the _Journal of Philosophy of Life_. The contributors are from a variety of philosophical traditions, including the Anglo-American, Continental and East Asian (especially Buddhist and Japanese) ones.
  •  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
  •  17
    Translation of 'The Meaning of Life' (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) into Persian by Abdulfazl Tavakoli Shandiz. Printed as a booklet.
  •  1
    _A Relational Moral Theory_ provides a new answer to the long-standing question of what all morally right actions might have in common as distinct from wrong ones, by drawing on neglected resources from the Global South and especially the African philosophical tradition. The book points out that the principles of utility and of respect for autonomy, the two rivals that have dominated western moral theory for about two centuries, share an individualist premise. Once that common assumption is repl…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
  •  967
    I critically examine the South African university student and worker protests of 2015/2016 in light of moral principles governing the use of force that are largely uncontested in both the contemporary Western and African philosophies of just war, violence and threats. Amongst these principles are: “discrimination”, according to which force should be directed not towards innocent bystanders but instead should target those particularly responsible for injustice; “likely success”, meaning that, ins…Read more
  •  882
    Therapists and related theorists and practitioners of mental health tend to hold one of two broad views about how to help patients. On the one hand, some maintain that, or at least act as though, the basic point of therapy is to help patients become clear about what they want deep down and to enable them to achieve it by overcoming mental blockages. On the other hand, there are those who contend that the aim of therapy should instead be to psychologically enable patients to live objectively desi…Read more
  •  29
    In this chapter I critically discuss the meta-ethical and normative ethical foundations of Nkrumah’s philosophy as discussed in Consciencism. With respect to meta-ethics, I address Nkrumah’s characteristically African attempt to ground ethics on metaphysics, and, specifically, his claim that a basic egalitarian moral principle follows from a materialist ontology. Granting Nkrumah that reality is ultimately physical and that the physical is unitary, I argue that nothing logically follows about wh…Read more
  •  43
    Philosophy of Higher Education
    In Duncan Pritchard (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy, Oxford University Press. 2013.
    A lengthy annotated bibliography of the most central work from the past 25 years on various aspects of the philosophy of higher education.
  •  306
    New developments in the meaning of life
    Philosophy Compass 2 (2). 2007.
    In this article I survey philosophical literature on the topic of what, if anything, makes a person’s life meaningful, focusing on systematic texts that are written in English and that have appeared in the last five years (2002-2007). My aims are to present overviews of the most important, fresh, Anglo-American positions on meaning in life and to raise critical questions about them worth answering in future work.
  •  19
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in Ratio (2003).
  •  260
    In this chapter, a reprinted article from Southern African Public Law (2010), I argue that, even supposing substantive principles of distributive justice entail that animals warrant constitutional protection, there are other, potentially weightier forms of injustice that would probably be done by interpreting a Bill of Rights as implicitly applying to animals, namely, formal injustice and compensatory injustice. Formal injustice would result from such a reading of the Constitution in that the st…Read more
  •  96
    Meaning in Life
    In Benjamin Matheson & Yujin Nagasawa (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook on the Afterlife, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 353-370. 2017.
    This chapter critically explores contemporary philosophical understandings of whether meaning in life might depend on the presence or absence of an afterlife. After distinguishing various kinds of afterlife, it focuses most on the potential relevance of an eternal one, and considers at length the extreme but common views amongst philosophers that an eternal afterlife would be either necessary for a meaningful life or, conversely, sufficient for a meaningless one. It concludes by considering the …Read more
  •  12
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in Religious Studies (2000).
  •  90
    Life Worth Living
    In Alex Michalos (ed.), Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-being Research, Springer. pp. 3602-05. 2014.
    In this encyclopedia entry, I seek to distinguish the concept of a worthwhile life from related ones such as a happy or meaningful life, to draw key distinctions that arise in discussion of worthwhileness (e.g., between life worth starting and life worth continuing), and to discuss some of the contemporary debates among ethicists about when a life is indeed worth living and when it's not.
  •  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
  •  348
    Toward an african moral theory
    Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (3). 2007.
    In this article I articulate and defend an African moral theory, i.e., a basic and general principle grounding all particular duties that is informed by sub-Saharan values commonly associated with talk of "ubuntu" and cognate terms that signify personhood or humanness. The favoured interpretation of ubuntu (as of 2007) is the principle that an action is right insofar as it respects harmonious relationships, ones in which people identify with, and exhibit solidarity toward, one another. I maintai…Read more
  •  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