•  491
    The Ethics of Routine HIV Testing: A Respect-Based Analysis
    South African Journal on Human Rights 21 (3): 370-405. 2005.
    Routine testing is a practice whereby medical professionals ask all patients whether they would like an HIV test, regardless of whether there is anything unique to a given patient that suggests the presence of HIV. In three respects I aim to offer a fresh perspective on the debate about whether a developing country with a high rate of HIV infection morally ought to adopt routine testing. First, I present a neat framework that organises the moral issues at stake, bringing out the basic principles…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
  •  62
    A reply to five critical discussions of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ (2013).
  •  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
  •  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).
  •  83
    Relational Ethics
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 1-10. 2016.
    An overview of relational approaches to ethics, which contrast with individualist and holist ones, particularly as they feature in the Confucian, African, and feminist/care traditions.
  •  310
    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
  •  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
  •  208
    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
  •  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.
  •  572
    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
  •  66
    Persian translation by Mohammad Saeedi of 'Could God's Purpose Be the Source of Life's Meaning?' (first published in Religious Studies 2000).
  •  51
    Ubuntu: The Good Life
    In Alex Michalos (ed.), Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-being Research, Springer. pp. 6761-65. 2014.
    An overview of a characteristically African approach to the human good.
  •  992
    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
  •  50
    Distributive Justice as a Matter of Love: A Relational Approach to Liberty and Property
    In Ingolf Dalferth & Trevor Kimball (eds.), Love and Justice, Mohr Siebeck. pp. 339-352. 2019.
    Usually a relational approach, such as one appealing to care or love, is contrasted with an account of justice. In this chapter, however, I argue that distributive justice is well conceived as itself a matter of honouring people in virtue of their capacity to love and to be loved. After spelling out a familiar conception of love, I explain how treating people with respect in light of this capacity provides a plausible basis for human rights, one that rivals influential individualist foundations …Read more
  •  728
    Happiness and Meaningfulness: Some Key Differences
    In Lisa Bortolotti (ed.), Philosophy and Happiness, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 3-20. 2009.
    In this chapter, I highlight the differences between the two goods of happiness and meaningfulness. Specifically, I contrast happiness and meaning with respect to six value-theoretic factors, among them: what the bearers of these values are, how luck can play a role in their realization, which attitudes are appropriate in response to them, and when they are to be preferred in a life. I aim not only to show that there are several respects in which happiness and meaning differ as categories of val…Read more
  •  15
    Reprint of an article first appearing in the South African Journal of Philosophy (2015).
  •  18
    A discussion of respects in which climate change is likely to affect health in Africa and the Middle East with some reference to moral values, such as ubuntu and Islam, salient in the respective regions.
  •  3462
    In this article I compare and, especially, contrast Aristotle’s conception of virtue with one typical of sub-Saharan philosophers. I point out that the latter is strictly other-regarding, and specifically communitarian, and contend that the former, while including such elements, also includes some self-regarding or individualist virtues, such as temperance and knowledge. I also argue that Aristotle’s conception of human excellence is more attractive than the sub-Saharan view as a complete accoun…Read more