•  187
    An African Theory of Moral Status: A Relational Alternative to Individualism and Holism
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3): 387-402. 2012.
    The dominant conceptions of moral status in the English-speaking literature are either holist or individualist, neither of which accounts well for widespread judgments that: animals and humans both have moral status that is of the same kind but different in degree; even a severely mentally incapacitated human being has a greater moral status than an animal with identical internal properties; and a newborn infant has a greater moral status than a mid-to-late stage foetus. Holists accord no moral …Read more
  •  22
    Expanded version of article appearing in Philosophy East and West (2017).
  •  18
    Good Governance: How Can Politics Promote Wellbeing?
    Drak Journal: A Journal of Thought and Ideas 1 (2): 90-99. 2015.
    A shortened and mildly revised reprint of a chapter initially composed as part of International Expert Working Group's report on Bhutan's project of Gross National Happiness, but published in full in Happiness: Transforming the Development Landscape (2017).
  •  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).
  •  303
    Given the myriad ways in which managerialism in higher education, and especially research undertaken there, is undesirable, is there a moral theory that plausibly explains why they all are and prescribes some realistic alternatives? In this contribution, I answer ‘yes’ to this overarching question. Specifically, I argue that the various respects in which managerialism is unjustified, particularly with regard to knowledge production, are well captured by an ethical philosophy grounded on salient …Read more
  •  30
    Portuguese translation by Desiderio Murcho of "Could God's Purpose Be the Source of Life's Meaning?" (Religious Studies 2000).
  •  39
    The Reasonable and the Moral
    Social Theory and Practice 28 (2): 277-301. 2002.
  •  1222
    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
  •  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
  •  72
    The Meaningful and the Worthwhile: Clarifying the Relationships
    Philosophical Forum 43 (4): 435-448. 2012.
    The question I seek to answer is what the relationship is between judgments of people’s lives as meaningful, on the one hand, and as worth living, on the other. Several in the analytic and Continental literature, including the likes of Albert Camus and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and more recently, Robert Solomon and Julian Baggini, have maintained that the two words mean the same thing, in that they have the same referents or even the same sense. My primary aim is to refute such a position, and instea…Read more
  •  28
    In this work of normative political philosophy, I consider the ethical status of the South African government's responses to the Marikana massacre, where police shot and killed more than 30 striking miners, in light of a moral principle grounded on values associated with ubuntu. I argue that there are several respects in which the government's reactions have been unethical from an ubuntu-oriented perspective, and also make positive suggestions about what it instead should have been doing. Much o…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
  •  69
    The final ends of higher education in light of an african moral theory
    Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (2): 179-201. 2009.
    From the perspective of an African ethic, analytically interpreted as a philosophical principle of right action, what are the proper final ends of a publicly funded university and how should they be ranked? To answer this question, I first provide a brief but inclusive review of the literature on Africanising higher education from the past 50 years, and contend that the prominent final ends suggested in it can be reduced to five major categories. Then, I spell out an intuitively attractive Afric…Read more
  •  316
    Meaning as a Distinct and Fundamental Value: Reply to Kershnar
    Science, Religion and Culture 1 (2): 101-106. 2014.
    In this article, I reply to a critical notice of my book, Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study, that Stephen Kershnar has published elsewhere in this issue of Science, Religion & Culture. Beyond expounding the central conclusions of the book, Kershnar advances two major criticisms of it, namely, first, that I did not provide enough evidence that meaning in life is a genuine value-theoretic category as something distinct from and competing with, say, objective well-being, and, second, that, even if…Read more
  •  8
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in the American Philosophical Quarterly (2001).
  •  311
    A lengthy reply to 13 critical discussions of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ collected in an e-book and reprinted from 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.
  •  16
    An updated version of this 4000 word overview of the meta-, normative and applied ethical dimensions of contemporary sub-Saharan moral philosophy.
  •  42
    How the West Was One: The Western as Individualist, the African as Communitarian
    Educational Philosophy and Theory 47 (11): 1175-1184. 2015.
    There is a kernel of truth in the claim that Western, and especially Anglo-American-Australasian, normative philosophy, including that relating to the philosophy of education, is individualistic; it tends to prize properties that are internal to a human being such as her autonomy, rationality, pleasure, desires, self-esteem, self-realization and virtues relating to, say, her intellect. One notable exception is the idea that students ought to be educated in order to be citizens, participants in a…Read more
  •  218
    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.
  •  3
    Recent Work in African Ethics (repr.)
    In Sharlene Swartz & Monica Taylor (eds.), Moral Education in Sub-Saharan Africa, Routledge. pp. 115-126. 2011.
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in the Journal of Moral Education (2010).
  •  565
    Auf dem Weg zu einer afrikanischen Moraltheorie
    In Franziska Dübgen & Stefan Skupien (eds.), Afrikanische politische Philosophie - Postkoloniale Positionen, Suhrkamp. pp. 295-329. 2015.
    German translation by Andreas Rauhut of a mildly revised version of 'Toward an African Moral Theory' (Journal of Political Philosophy 2007).
  •  91
    Jurisprudence in an African Context
    with David Bilchitz and Oritsegbubemi Oyowe
    Oxford University Press. 2017.
    A textbook written mainly for final year law students taking Jurisprudence at an African university, but that would also be of use to those in a political philosophy course. It includes primary sources from both the Western and African philosophical traditions, and addresses these central questions: what is the nature of law?; how should judges interpret the law?; is it possible for judges to be objective when they adjudicate?; how could the law justly allocate liberty and property?; who is owed…Read more
  •  194
    De zachte plek (The Sweet Spot)
    In Leo Bormans (ed.), Geluk 2.0; The World Book of Happiness, Lannoo Publishing. pp. 335-338. 2016.
    An 850 word statement, translated into Dutch and composed for a lay audience, of respects in which happiness and meaningfulness can come apart, but highlighting the aim of engaging in projects in which they are co-present.
  •  6
    _A Relational Moral Theory_ draws on neglected resources from the Global South and especially the African philosophical tradition to provide a new answer to a perennial philosophical question: what do all morally right actions have in common as distinct from wrong ones? Metz points out that the principles of utility and of respect for autonomy, the two rivals that have dominated western moral theory for the last two centuries, share an individualist premise. Once that common assumption is replac…Read more
  •  573
    In this essay I recount how I have been hoping to see more ubuntu in South Africa’s institutions than had been present in the two dominant socio-politico-economic models across the world in the 20th century. I haven’t been expecting utopia from the past 20 years of democracy; I’ve just wanted something new to come out of Africa. I here relate my experience of learning that it is not always forthcoming, at least not as quickly as I would have liked. However, I conclude by indicating that the prom…Read more
  •  202
    The Concept of a Meaningful Life
    American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (2): 137-153. 2001.
    This paper aims to clarify what we are asking when posing the question of what (if anything) makes a life meaningful. People associate many different ideas with talk of "meaning in life," so that one must search for an account of the question that is primary in some way. Therefore, after briefly sketching the major conceptions of life's meaning in 20th century philosophical literature, the remainder of the paper systematically seeks a satisfactory analysis the concept of a meaningful life that t…Read more
  •  989
    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
  •  66
    Persian translation by Mohammad Saeedi of 'Could God's Purpose Be the Source of Life's Meaning?' (first published in Religious Studies 2000).