•  484
    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
  •  294
    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.
  •  528
    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
  •  881
    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.
  •  1344
    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.
  •  646
    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
  •  142
    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)
  •  16
    Ubuntu and the Value of Self-Expression in the Mass Media
    Communicatio 41 (3): 388-403. 2015.
    In this article I consider what the implications of ubuntu, interpreted as an African moral philosophy, are for self-expression as a value that the media could help to promote. In contrast to the natural hunches that self-expression is merely a kind of narcissism or makes sense for only individualist cultures to prize, I argue that an attractive construal of ubuntu entails that self-expression can play an important communitarian role. The mass media can be obligated to enable people to express t…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.
  •  66
    Developing African Political Philosophy: Moral-Theoretic Strategies
    Philosophia Africana 14 (1): 61-83. 2012.
    If contemporary African political philosophy is going to develop substantially in fresh directions, it probably will not be enough, say, to rehash the old personhood debate between Kwame Gyekye and Ifeanyi Menkiti, or to nit-pick at Gyekye’s system, as much of the literature in the field has done. Instead, major advances are likely to emerge on the basis of new, principled interpretations of sub-Saharan moral thought. In recent work, I have fleshed out two types of moral theories that have a cle…Read more
  •  165
    God, Morality and the Meaning of Life
    In Samantha Vice & Nafsika Athanassoulis (eds.), The Moral Life: Essays in Honour of John Cottingham, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 201-227. 2008.
    In this chapter, I critically explore John Cottingham's most powerful argument for the thesis that the existence of God is necessary for meaning in life. This is the argument that life would be meaningless without an invariant morality, which could come only from God. After demonstrating that Cottingham's God-based ethic can avoid not only many traditional Euthyphro meta-ethical concerns, but also objections at the normative level, I consider whether it can entail the unique respect in which mor…Read more
  •  339
    Realism and the Censure Theory of Punishment
    In Patricia Smith & Paolo Comanducci (eds.), Legal Philosophy: General Aspects, Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 117-29. 2002.
    I focus on the metaphysical underpinnings of the censure theory of punishment, according to which punishment is justified if and because it expresses disapproval of injustice. Specifically, I seek to answer the question of what makes claims about proportionate censure true or false. In virtue of what is it the case that one form of censure is stronger than another, or that punishment is the censure fitting injustice? Are these propositions true merely because of social conventions, as per the do…Read more
  •  198
    آثار جدید درباره معناى زندگى (Persian: 'Recent Work on the Meaning of Life’)
    Naqd Va Nazar: Quarterly Journal of Philosophy and Theology 8 (29-30): 266-313. 2003.
    Persian translation by Mohsen Javadi of 'Recent Work on the Meaning of Life' (first published in Ethics 2002).
  •  33
    The Meaning of Life, Revised Edition
    In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University. 2013.
    An updated version of the initial, 2007 entry, adding in discussion of key works that have appeared since then.