•  295
    Confucianism and African Conceptions of Value, Reality and Knowledge (儒家思想与非洲的价值观、现实 观与知识观)
    International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition 国际社会科学杂志) 33 (4): 159-170. 2016.
    This article, translated into Chinese by Tian Kaifang, summarizes and critically reflects on the current state of the literature that has recently begun to put Chinese Confucianism into dialogue with characteristically African conceptions of what is good, what fundamentally exists, and how to obtain knowledge. As most of this literature has addressed value theory, this article focuses largely on it, too. It first illustrates how similar the foundational values are between the two cultural tradit…Read more
  •  53
    Values in China as Compared to Africa: Two Conceptions of Harmony
    Philosophy East and West 67 (2): 441-465. 2017.
    Given a 21st century context of sophisticated market economies and other Western influences such as Christianity, what similarities and differences are there between characteristic indigenous values of sub-Saharan Africa and China, and how do they continue to influence everyday life in these societies? Establishing that central to both non-Western, indigenous value systems are ideals of harmonious relationships, I compare and contrast traditional African and Chinese conceptions of harmony and an…Read more
  •  30
    Meaning in Life as the Right Metric
    Society 53 (2): 294-296. 2016.
    In “Happiness Is the Wrong Metric,” Amitai Etzioni largely argues that human beings are motivated by more than just their own happiness, whether conceived in terms of pleasant experiences or fulfilled preferences, and that the state should attend to more than merely people’s happiness. He contends that people are often disposed to seek out, and that public policy ought to promote, what is morally right and good. While not disagreeing with this thrust of Etzioni’s position, I maintain in my contr…Read more
  •  27
    Review of Heidi Hurd, Moral Combat (review)
    Philosophical Review 110 (3): 434-436. 2001.
    It appears that it would almost always be wrong to punish a person for having performed a morally justified action. The axiom of “weak retributivism” maintains that the state must not routinely punish those who have not broken a just law. However, it seems that respect for the rule of law and for majority rule requires government officials to punish individuals for breaking laws that may be somewhat unjust. An impartial and democratic state could not function if individuals flouted institutional…Read more
  •  29
    Many readers will share the judgment that, having made an oath, there is something morally worse about consequently performing the immoral action, such as embezzling, that one swore not to do. Why would it be worse? To answer this question, I consider three moral-theoretic accounts of why it is “extra” wrong to violate oaths not to perform wrong actions, with special attention paid to those made in economic contexts. Specifically, I address what the moral theories of utilitarianism, Kantianism a…Read more
  •  24
    African Philosophy as a Multidisciplinary Discourse
    In Toyin Falola & Adeshina Afolayan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 795-812. 2017.
    Philosophy is often labelled the ‘Queen of the Sciences’, meaning that it not merely gave birth to most other disciplines, but also has continued to influence their course. This chapter proceeds on these assumptions as well as the idea that post-independence, academic African philosophy ought to shape the development of other disciplines. It addresses the clusters of Law/Politics, Business/Management, Economics/Development Studies, Sociology/Anthropology, Psychology/Medicine, Education, Religiou…Read more
  •  179
    How God Could Assign Us a Purpose without Disrespect: Reply to Salles
    Quadranti - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia Contemporanea 1 (1): 99-112. 2013.
    In one of the most widely read texts on what makes a life meaningful, composed more than 50 years ago, Kurt Baier presents an intriguing argument against the view that meaning in life would come by fulfilling a purpose God has assigned us. Baier contends that God could not avoid degrading us were He to assign us a purpose, which would mean that God, as a morally ideal being by definition, would not do so. Defenders of God-centred accounts of meaning in life, and even many of its detractors such …Read more
  •  88
    Thaddeus Metz defends the retributive theory of punishment against challenges mounted by some of the contributors to this collection. People, he thinks, ought to be censured in a way that is proportional to what they have done and for which they are responsible. Understanding does not conflict with judging. On the contrary, according to him, the more we understand, the better we are able to censure appropriately. Metz’s argument is Kantian insofar as he argues that ‘respect for persons [victims,…Read more
  •  39
    I critically evaluate South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in light of a philosophical interpretation of the southern African ethic of ubuntu. Roughly, according to this moral philosophy, an act or policy is right insofar as it honours communal relationships, ones of identifying with others and exhibiting solidarity with them. After spelling out this ethical principle and the specific kind of national reconciliation it prescribes, I show that there is a powerful justification…Read more
  •  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).
  •  26
    African Ethics and Journalism Ethics: News and Opinion in Light of Ubuntu
    Journal of Media Ethics 30 (2): 74-90. 2015.
    In this article, I address some central issues in journalism ethics from a fresh perspective, namely, one that is theoretical and informed by values salient in sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on a foundational moral theory with an African pedigree, which is intended to rival Western theories such as Kantianism and utilitarianism, I provide a unified account of an array of duties of various agents with respect to the news/opinion media. I maintain that the ability of the African moral theory to plaus…Read more
  •  31
    I consider what prima facie attractive communitarian ethical perspectives salient among indigenous African peoples entail for distributive justice within a state, and I argue that they support a form of economic egalitarianism that differs in several important ways from varieties common in contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy. In particular, the sort of economic egalitarianism I advance rivals not only luck-oriented variants from the likes of Ronald Dworkin, G. A. Cohen and theorists…Read more
  •  499
    This is an introduction to the special issue of Quest devoted to D. A. Masolo’s latest book, Self and Community in a Changing World. It situates this book in relation to not only Masolo’s earlier research on African philosophy but also the field more generally, sketches the central positions of the contributions to the journal issue, and in light of them makes some critical recommendations for future reflection.
  •  71
    This article considers how global ethical matters might be approached differently in the English-speaking literature if values salient in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia were taken seriously. Specifically, after pointing out how indigenous values in both of these major parts of the world tend to prescribe honouring harmonious relationships, the article brings out what such an approach to morality entails for political power, foreign relations and criminal justice. For each major issue, it sugge…Read more
  •  226
    Questioning South Africa’s ‘Genetic Link’ Requirement for Surrogacy
    South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 7 (1): 34-39. 2014.
    South African law currently forbids those seeking to arrange a surrogate motherhood agreement from creating a child that will not be genetically related to at least one of them. For a surrogacy contract to be legally valid, there must be a ‘genetic link’ between the child created through a surrogate and the parents who will raise it. Currently, this law is being challenged in the High Court of South Africa, and in this article I critically explore salient ethical facets of the dispute. I argue t…Read more
  •  319
    I have two major aims in this chapter, which is philosophical in nature. One is to draw upon values that are salient in the southern African region in order to construct a novel and attractive conception of human dignity. Specifically, I articulate the idea that human beings have a dignity in virtue of their communal nature, or their capacity for what I call ‘identity’ and ‘solidarity’, which contrasts the most influential conception in the West, according to which our dignity inheres in our rat…Read more
  •  3
    Two values salient in the sub-Saharan tradition that are invoked to ground the superlative, equal worth of persons and the human rights to which they are entitled are, first, vitality or 'life-force' and, second, community or relationships of identity and solidarity. This entry, which draws heavily on an article appearing in Human Rights Review (2012), sketches these two conceptions of dignity and presents an overview of key strengths and weaknesses of them.
  •  39
    The Reasonable and the Moral
    Social Theory and Practice 28 (2): 277-301. 2002.
  •  264
    Eine Theorie nationaler Versöhnung: Einsichten aus Afrika
    Polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 34 (Supp): 219-244. 2016.
    German translation by Andreas Rauhut of 'A Theory of National Reconciliation: Some Insights from Africa' (from _Theorizing Transitional Justice_ 2015).
  •  120
    Précis of Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study
    Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3). 2015.
    Brief summary of _Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study_ and of how contributors to a special issue of the _Journal of Philosophy of Life_ question it.
  •  14
    Jus Interruptus Bellum: The Ethics of Truce-Making
    Journal of Global Ethics 13 (1): 6-13. 2017.
    With his new book, A Theory of Truces, Nir Eisikovits has succeed in producing the most comprehensive and insightful book to exist on the nature and morality of truces during international military conflict. In it he plausibly argues that thought about such conflict should avoid binary terms such as long-lasting peace and all-out war, and instead must readily acknowledge conditions “in between” them, such as cease-fires and agreements to limit belligerence to certain times. In this critical noti…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
  •  35
    Confucian Harmony from an African Perspective
    African and Asian Studies 15 (1): 1-22. 2016.
    Chenyang Li’s new book, The Philosophy of Confucian Harmony, has been heralded as the first book-length exposition of the concept of harmony in the approximately 3,000 year old Confucian tradition. It provides a systematic analysis of Confucian harmony and defence of its relevance for contemporary moral and political thought. In this philosophical discussion of Li’s book, I expound its central claims, contextualize them relative to other salient work in English-speaking Confucian thought, and cr…Read more
  •  291
    I examine two recent books by analytic philosophers that address the underexplored topic of whether the meaning of life depends on the existence of a supernatural realm including God and a soul. John Cottingham’s On the Meaning of Life defends a supernaturalist conception of life’s meaning, whereas Kurt Baier’s Problems of Life and Death defends the opposite, naturalist perspective. I show that their respective arguments are worth serious consideration, indicate some potential weaknesses in them…Read more
  •  1143
    Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study
    Oxford University Press. 2013.
    What makes a person's life meaningful? Thaddeus Metz offers a new answer to an ancient question which has recently returned to the philosophical agenda. He proceeds by examining what, if anything, all the conditions that make a life meaningful have in common. The outcome of this process is a philosophical theory of meaning in life. He starts by evaluating existing theories in terms of the classic triad of the good, the true, and the beautiful. He considers whether meaning in life might be about …Read more
  •  26
    Open Perfectionism and Global Justice
    Theoria 51 (104): 96-127. 2004.
    In his book Cosmopolitan Justice, Darrel Moellendorf argues that respect for persons has the following rough implications (among others): requires states to enact liberal legislation; permits them to interfere with religious or otherwise perfectionist regimes; forbids them from restricting immigration for perfectionist ends; and requires them to permit secession. In this article, I do not question Moellendorf's Kantian foundation; what I do here is question the inferences from this principle to …Read more
  •  43
    Das Sinnvolle und das Lebenswerte: Zur Klärung ihrer Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede
    In Matthias Hoesch, Sebastian Muders & Markus Rüther (eds.), Glück-Werte-Sinn, Walter De Gruyter. pp. 109-25. 2013.
    'The Meaningful and the Worthwhile' (Philosophical Forum 2012) translated into German by Markus Rüther.
  •  215
    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.