•  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.
  •  3465
    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
  •  32
    The Desirability of a Property Clause: Michelman's Defence of Liberalism
    Stellenbosch Law Review 24 (2): 312-28. 2013.
    I address Frank Michelman’s recent attempts to dispel the notion that there are deep tensions between a liberal approach to constitution making and a resolute commitment to fighting poverty, i.e., to holding what he calls ‘social liberalism’. He focuses on the prima facie tension between anti-poverty struggle on the part of government and the existence of a property clause in a constitution, a tension that several commentators in South Africa have contended requires removing that clause from its…Read more
  •  99
    Recent work in African ethics
    Journal of Moral Education 39 (3): 381-391. 2010.
    In this article I review the two books published in the last few years that would be of most interest to those researching or teaching African morality. They are African Ethics: An Anthology of Comparative and Applied Ethics and Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture, which are both collections of contemporary essays. These texts are among the first anthologies ever to appear that are strictly devoted to the values of black peoples below the Sahara, and they include many fresh …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.
  •  164
    Could God's purpose be the source of life's meaning?
    Religious Studies 36 (3): 293-313. 2000.
    In this paper, I explore the traditional religious account of what can make a life meaningful, namely, the view that one's life acquires significance insofar as one fulfils a purpose God has assigned. Call this view ‘purpose theory’. In the literature, there are objections purporting to show that purpose theory entails the logical absurdities that God is not moral, omnipotent, or eternal. I show that there are versions of purpose theory which are not vulnerable to these reductio arguments. Howev…Read more
  •  96
    Respect for persons and perfectionist politics
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 30 (4). 2001.
    Can a state seek to promote a thick conception of the good (such as fostering a kind of meaning or excellence in people's lives) without treating its citizens disrespectfully? The predominant answer among friends of the principle of respect for persons is "no." The most powerful Kantian objection to non-liberalism or perfectionism is the claim that citizens who do not share the state's conception of the good would be wronged in that the state would treat a certain way of life as more important …Read more
  •  85
    The point of psychotherapy has occasionally been associated with talk of ‘life’s meaning’. However, the literature on meaning in life written by contemporary philosophers has yet to be systematically applied to literature on the point of psychotherapy. My broad aim in this chapter is to indicate some plausible ways to merge these two tracks of material that have run in parallel up to now. More specifically, my hunch is that the connection between meaning as philosophers understand it and therapy…Read more
  •  260
    Replacing Development: An Afro-communal Approach to Global Justice
    Philosophical Papers 46 (1): 111-137. 2017.
    In this article, I consider whether there are values intrinsic to development theory and practice that are dubious in light of a characteristically African ethic. In particular, I focus on what a certain philosophical interpretation of the sub-Saharan value of communion entails for appraising development, drawing two major conclusions. One is that a majority of the criticisms that have been made of development by those sympathetic to African values are weak; I argue that, given the value of comm…Read more
  •  43
    Animal Rights and the Interpretation of the South African Constitution
    Southern African Public Law 25 (2): 301-311. 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 state would fail to speak with one voice upon newly according legal rights to an…Read more
  •  150
    A comprehensive account of justice grounded on salient Afro-communitarian values, the article attempts to unify views about the distribution of economic resources, the protection of human rights and the provision of social recognition as ultimately being about proper ways to value loving relationships.
  •  67
    Human Rights, African Perspectives
    In Deen Chatterjee (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Justice, Springer. pp. 501-05. 2012.
    At least the three major academic debates one encounters about human rights in an African context are usefully framed in terms how they relate to community in various ways. Specifically, this entry first discusses disputes among moral anthropologists and political scientists about the extent to which human rights were present in pre-colonial, communal sub-Saharan societies; then it takes up ways in which group-based claims have significantly influenced human rights discourse and observance in po…Read more
  •  49
    Life, Meaning of
    In Henk ten Have (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics, Springer. pp. 1-6. 2015.
    This entry begins by indicating respects in which the concept of life’s meaning has only recently become salient in English-speaking bioethical discussions and by clarifying what talk of ‘life’s meaning’ and cognate phrases mean, at least to most of the philosophers and bioethicists who have used them. This essay then addresses six major respects in which thought about what makes a life meaningful has influenced bioethics. The first four issues concern life and death matters for human beings, an…Read more
  •  26
    Toward an African Moral Theory (revised edition)
    In Isaac Ukpokolo (ed.), Themes, Issues and Problems in African Philosophy, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 97-119. 2017.
    A mildly revised version of an article first published in the Journal of Political Philosophy (2007).
  •  36
    Philosophical Papers 34 (3): 311-329. 2005.
    This article introduces a special issue of Philosophical Papers devoted to the topic of meaning in life. In the paper, I engage with articles by Robert Audi, David Velleman, John Martin Fischer, Laurence Thomas, Berit Brogaard, Barry Smith and Larry James, laying out their central views, criticizing them, and suggesting ways they could be developed.
  •  4743
    Contemporary Anti-Natalism, Featuring Benatar's Better Never to Have Been
    South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1): 1-9. 2012.
    A critical overview of the latest discussion of anti-natalism, with particular reference to David Benatar's work and three additional rationales for anti-natalism that differ from Benatar's.
  •  38
    Gross National Happiness: A Philosophical Appraisal
    Ethics and Social Welfare 8 (3): 218-232. 2014.
    For more than 40 years, the Kingdom of Bhutan has eschewed evaluating its socio-economic status in terms of Gross Domestic Product and has instead done so under the heading of ‘Gross National Happiness’. As part of the upswing in international interest in well-being as the proper final end of development, it would be apt to critically explore the approach that has been in use for several decades. In this article I expound the central elements of Gross National Happiness and discuss their strengt…Read more
  •  64
    How to Reconcile Liberal Politics with Retributive Punishment
    Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 27 (4): 683-705. 2007.
    There is a deep tension between liberalism and retributivism. On the face of it, one cannot coherently believe liberalism about the fundamental purpose of the state and retributivism about the basic end of legal punishment, given widely held and well-motivated or what I call ‘standard’ conceptions of these views. My aims in this article are to differentiate the types of conflict between liberalism and retributivism, to identify the strongest and most problematic type of conflict between th…Read more
  •  359
    The Nature of Reactive Practices: Exploring Strawson’s Expressivism
    South African Journal of Philosophy 27 (3): 49-63. 2008.
    I aim to answer the questions of whether reactive practices such as gratitude and punishment are inherently expressive, and, if so, in what respect. I distinguish seven ways in which one might plausibly characterize reactive practices as essentially expressive in nature, and organise them so that they progress in a dialectical order, from weakest to strongest. I then critically discuss objections that apply to the strongest conception, questioning whether it coheres with standard retributive und…Read more
  •  52
    English-speaking research on morally right decisions in a healthcare context over the past three decades has been dominated by two major perspectives, namely, the Four Principles, of which the principle of respect for autonomy has been most salient, and the ethic of care, often presented as a rival to not only a focus on autonomy but also a reliance on principles more generally. In my contribution, I present a novel ethic applicable to bioethics, particularly as it concerns human procreation, th…Read more
  •  268
    This chapter expounds relational values characteristic of indigenous Africa and considers how they might usefully be adopted when contemporary societies interact with each other. Specifically, it notes respects in which genuinely human or communal relationship has been missing in the two contexts of globalization and international relations, and suggests what a greater appreciation of this good by the rest of the world would mean for them.
  •  27
    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
  •  486
    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
  •  49
    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
  •  328
    The African ethic of Ubuntu/Botho: implications for research on morality
    with Joseph B. R. Gaie
    Journal of Moral Education 39 (3): 273-290. 2010.
    In this article 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 empirical research into morality. With regard to normative research, we compare and contrast …Read more
  •  68
    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.
  •  65
    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).