•  481
    African Values and Capital Punishment
    In Gerard Walmsley (ed.), African Philosophy and the Future of Africa, Council For Research in Values and Philosophy. pp. 83-90. 2017.
    What is the strongest argument grounded in African values, i.e., those salient among indigenous peoples below the Sahara desert, for abolishing capital punishment? I defend a particular answer to this question, one that invokes an under-theorized conception of human dignity. Roughly, I maintain that the death penalty is nearly always morally unjustified, and should therefore be abolished, because it degrades people’s special capacity for communal relationships. To defend this claim, I proceed by…Read more
  •  293
    Neutrality, Partiality, and Meaning in Life
    De Ethica 4 (3): 7-25. 2017.
    Discussion of whether values and norms are neutral or not has mainly appeared in works on the nature of prudential rationality and morality. Little systematic has yet appeared in the up and coming field of the meaning of life. What are the respects in which the value of meaningfulness is neutral or, in contrast, partial, relational, or ‘biased’? In this article, I focus strictly on answering this question. First, I aim to identify the salient, and perhaps exhaustive, respects in which issues of …Read more
  • Agwa Oma N’Echiche Ndi Afrikana Nkowa Nke (An Account of African Moral Thought) (edited book)
    with Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi
    Timeless Publishers. 2018.
    A collection of several articles on African ethics by Thaddeus Metz translated into Igbo by M. B. Mbah, and edited by Prof Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi of the University of Abuja, Nigeria.
  • The Foundations of Social Contract Theory
    Dissertation, Cornell University. 1997.
    Hypothetical social contract theory is the predominant framework that political philosophers use to argue for conceptions of social justice. A hypothetical social contract theory consists of an initial situation, in which parties are imagined to make a rational agreement about the way to design their politico-economic institutions, and a conception of justice to which these parties would agree. My goals in the dissertation are to determine the most warranted initial situation and the conception …Read more
  •  112
    Meaning (Atheism)
    In Graham Oppy & Joseph W. Koterski (eds.), Theism and Atheism: Opposing Arguments in Philosophy, 1st Edition, Gale. pp. 507-521. 2019.
    A critical exploration of the position that God is necessary for meaning in life for mainly undergraduate and postgraduate readers, with some defence of the view that He is not.
  • Reprint of an article that appeared in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (2017).
  •  7
    Much of the debate about post-secularism has presumed a background of Western countries and the sort of statutory law that legislatures should make, and how they should make it, in the light of residents’ religious attitudes and practices. In this chapter I address a fresh context, namely, that of South Africa and the way that courts have interpreted, and should interpret, law in the face of African traditional religions. Specifically, I explicate the fact that, by South Africa's famously progre…Read more
  •  30
    In my view, postmodernism, as a cluster of bold epistemological claims, foundered on the rocks of contemporary science. Many postmodern positions about knowledge have conflicted with views of science that are extraordinarily difficult to doubt, which in this short article (composed to honour Educational Philosophy and Theory's 50th anniversary), I point out and argue holds a lesson about how to undertake the philosophy of education.
  •  525
    There has been the recurrent suspicion that community, harmony, cohesion, and similar relational goods as understood in the African ethical tradition threaten to occlude difference. Often, it has been Western defenders of liberty who have raised the concern that these characteristically sub-Saharan values fail to account adequately for individuality, although some contemporary African thinkers have expressed the same concern. In this chapter, I provide a certain understanding of the sub-Saharan …Read more
  •  13
    Many values originating in Africa and in China, and ones that continue to influence much of everyday communication in those societies, are aptly placed under the common heading of 'harmony'. After first spelling out what harmony involves in substantially Confucian China, and then in Africa, this article notes respects in which the Confucian and African conceptions of harmony are similar, an awareness of which could facilitate smooth communication. The article then indicates respects in which the…Read more
  •  189
    The dominant view amongst contemporary Western philosophers about the essence of a natu­ ral object is that it is constituted by its intrinsic properties. The ontological approach salient in the African philosophical tradition, in contrast, accounts for a thing’s essence by appeal to its relational properties. The Afro­relational ontology is under­developed, with the primary aim of this article being to help rectify that weakness. Specifically, this article’s aims are: to articulate an African a…Read more
  •  73
    Humility and the African Ethic of Ubuntu
    In Mark Alfano, Michael Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Humility, Routledge. pp. 257-267. 2020.
    This chapter explores prominent respects in which humility figures into ubuntu, the southern African (and specifically Nguni) term for humanness often used to capture moral philosophies and cultures indigenous to the sub-Saharan region. The chapter considers respects in which humility is prescribed by ubuntu, understood not just as a relational normative ethic, but also as a moral epistemology. Focusing specifically on philosophical ideas published in academic fora over the past 50 years or so, …Read more
  •  188
    In this article, I seek to answer the following cluster of questions: What would a characteristically African, and specifically relational, conception of a criminal trial’s final end look like? What would the Afro-relational approach prescribe for sentencing? Would its implications for this matter forcefully rival the kinds of penalties that judges in South Africa and similar jurisdictions typically mete out? After pointing out how the southern African ethic of ubuntu is well understood as a rel…Read more
  •  28
    Advancing the Philosophy of Medicine: Towards New Topics and Sources
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (3): 281-288. 2018.
    The first part of a symposium devoted to Alex Broadbent's essay titled ‘Prediction, Understanding and Medicine’, this article notes the under-development of a variety of issues in the philosophy of medicine that transcend bioethics and the long-standing debates about the nature of health/illness and of evidence-based medicine. It also indicates the importance of drawing on non-Western, and particularly African, traditions in addressing these largely metaphysical and epistemological matters.
  •  19
    Medicine without Cure?: A Cluster Analysis of the Nature of Medicine
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (3): 306-312. 2018.
    Part of a symposium devoted to ‘Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine’, in which Alex Broadbent argues that the nature of medicine is determined by its competences, i.e., which things it can do well. He argues that, although medicine cannot cure well, it can do a good job of enabling people not only to understand states of the human organism and of what has caused them, but also to predict future states of it. From this Broadbent concludes that medicine is (at least in part) essentially a prac…Read more
  •  880
    Community Vitality
    with Ilona Boniwell and Rowan Conway
    In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.), Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape, Centre For Bhutan Studies and Gnh. pp. 347-378. 2017.
    An analysis of the value of community vitality as it figures into the Royal Government of Bhutan's policy of Gross National Happiness.
  •  1339
    Good Governance
    with Johannes Hirata, Ritu Verma, and Eric Zencey
    In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.), Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape, Centre For Bhutan Studies and Gnh. pp. 329-346. 2017.
    An analysis of the nature of good governance as it figures into the Royal Government of Bhutan's policy of Gross National Happiness.
  •  637
    Definitions of Terms
    with Alejandro Adler, Ilona Boniwell, Evelyn Gibson, Martin Seligman, Yukiko Uchida, and Zhanjun Xing
    In Centre for Bhutan Studies (ed.), Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape, Centre For Bhutan Studies and Gnh. pp. 21-38. 2017.
    Definitions of terms that are central to a theoretical understanding of the Royal Government of Bhutan's policy of Gross National Happiness.
  •  23
    A collection of several articles on African moral and political philosophy by Thaddeus Metz, translated into French by Emmanuel Fopa, and edited and introduced by Pius Mosima of the University of Bamenda, Cameroon.
  •  125
    Why Objective Truth Is the Ally of Social and Epistemic Justice: Reply to Jenco
    Journal of World Philosophies 2 (2): 130-134. 2017.
    In “Are Certain Knowledge Frameworks More Congenial to the Aims of Cross-Cultural Philosophy? A Qualified Yes,” Leigh Jenco responds to an article in which I had argued for a similar conclusion. I had contended roughly that the positing of objective truth combined with a fallibilist epistemology best explains why a philosopher from one culture could learn something substantial from another culture. In her response, Jenco contends that this knowledge framework does not account adequately for the …Read more
  •  140
    I consider the implications of two globally influential love-centred value systems for how to respond to painful memories that are a consequence of large-scale social conflict. More specifically, I articulate a moral-philosophical interpretation of the sub-Saharan worldview of ubuntu, and consider what it entails for responding to such trauma. According to this ethic, one should strive to become a real person, which one can do insofar as one honours those capable of communal (or broadly loving) …Read more
  •  29
    Ends and Means of Transitional Justice
    Journal of Global Ethics 14 (2): 158-169. 2018.
    With her new book, The Conceptual Foundations of Transitional Justice, Colleen Murphy has advanced novel, comprehensive and sophisticated philosophical accounts of both what severely conflict-ridden societies should be aiming for and how they should pursue it. Ultimately grounded on a prizing of rational agency, Murphy maintains that these societies, roughly, ought to strive for a stable and legitimate democratic polity committed to not repeating gross historical injustice and do so in ways that…Read more
  •  25
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in _Ethical Theory and Moral Practice_ (2012)
  •  57
  •  65
    Taking the good (generosity), the true (enquiry), and the beautiful (creativity) as exemplars of what can make a life noticeably meaningful, elsewhere I have advanced a principle that entails and plausibly explains all three. Specifically, I have proffered the view that great meaning in life, at least insofar as it comes from this triad, is a matter of positively orienting one’s rational nature towards fundamental conditions of human existence, conditions of human life responsible for much else …Read more
  •  30
    Portuguese translation by Desiderio Murcho of "Could God's Purpose Be the Source of Life's Meaning?" (Religious Studies 2000).
  •  1220
    Ubuntu as a Moral Theory and Human Rights in South Africa
    African Human Rights Law Journal 11 (2): 532-559. 2011.
    There are three major reasons that ideas associated with ubuntu are often deemed to be an inappropriate basis for a public morality. One is that they are too vague, a second is that they fail to acknowledge the value of individual freedom, and a third is that they a fit traditional, small-scale culture more than a modern, industrial society. In this article, I provide a philosophical interpretation of ubuntu that is not vulnerable to these three objections. Specifically, I construct a moral theo…Read more
  •  56
    Reasons of Meaning to Abhor the End of the Human Race
    Faith and Philosophy 33 (3): 358-369. 2016.
    In this critical notice of Samuel Scheffler’s Death and the Afterlife, I focus on his intriguing suggestion that we reasonably care more about the fate of an unidentifiable, future humanity than of ourselves and our loved ones. Scheffler’s main rationale for this claim is that meaning in our lives crucially depends on contributing to the well-being of the human race down the road, with many commentators instead arguing that advancing the good of ourselves or existing loved ones would be sufficie…Read more
  •  97
    In this critical notice of Guy Bennett-Hunter’s book _Ineffability and Religious Experience_, I focus on claims he makes about what makes a life meaningful. According to Bennett-Hunter, for human life to be meaningful it must obtain its meaning from what is beyond the human and is ineffable, which constitutes an ultimate kind of meaning. I spell out Bennett-Hunter’s rationale for making this claim, raise some objections to it, and in their wake articulate an alternative conception of ultimate me…Read more
  •  45
    The default position in Western ethics is that survivor’s guilt is either irrational or not rational, i.e., that while survivor’s guilt might be understandable, it is not justified in the sense of there being good reason for a person to exhibit it. From a widely held perspective, for example, one ought to feel guilty only for having done wrong, and in a culpable way, which, by hypothesis, a mere survivor has not done. Typical is the following: ‘Strictly speaking, survivor guilt is not rational g…Read more