• Karl Popper is famous for favoring an open society, one in which the individual is treated as an end in himself and social arrangements are subjected to critical evaluation, which he defends by appeal to a Kantian ethic of respecting the dignity of rational beings. In this article, I consider for the first time what the implications of a characteristically African ethic, prescribing respect for our capacity to relate communally, are for how the state should operate in an open society. I argue th…Read more
  • Adherents to reconciliation, restorative justice and related approaches to dealing with social conflict are well known for being anti-retributive, that is, for rejecting the imposition of punishment on wrongdoers without the expectation of anything good, in the manner of ‘an eye for an eye’. In addition, proponents usually understand these approaches to prescribe either no punishment at all or at least its minimization, in favour of offenders hearing out victims, making an apology, and effecting…Read more
  • A debate between Thaddeus Metz and Joshua Seachris on what makes life meaningful, with emphasis on the potential relevance of God, immortality, narrative and achievements.
  • Reprint of an article that first appeared in the journal World Development (2017).
  • Pursuing Knowledge for Its Own Sake amidst a World of Poverty: Reconsidering Balogun on Philosophy’s Relevance
    Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions. forthcoming.
    In this article I critically discuss Professor Oladele Abiodun Balogun’s reflections on the proper final ends of doing philosophy and related sorts of abstract, speculative, or theoretical inquiry. Professor Balogun appears to argue that one should undertake philosophical studies only insofar as they are likely to make a practical difference to people’s lives, particularly by contributing to politico-economic development, or, in other words, that one should eschew seeking knowledge for its own s…Read more
  • A large majority of African philosophers maintain that abortion is immoral, principally because they view it as incompatible with an ethic that ascribes fundamental value to life-force, vitality and related properties. In my contribution to this volume, I would seek to answer the question of what resources there are in the African philosophical tradition to defend an individual woman’s right to get an abortion and related rights such as to contraception and the ‘morning after’ pill. Supposing th…Read more
  •  11
    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
  •  1
    Part of a special issue devoted to the meaning of life, this is a critical discussion of what is involved in speaking of 'life's meaning' and cognate phrases, with close attention paid to literature from the past 10 years.
  • In this chapter the author critically explores answers to the question of how immortality would affect the meaningfulness of a person’s life, understood roughly as a life that merits esteem, achieves purposes much more valuable than pleasure, or makes for a good life-story. The author expounds three arguments for thinking that life would be meaningless if it were mortal, and provides objections to them. He then offers a reason for thinking that a mortal life could be meaningful, and responds to …Read more
  • Community, Individuality, and Reciprocity in Menkiti
    In Polycarp A. Ikuenobe & Edwin Etieyibo (eds.), Themes in Menkiti's African Conception of Personhood (tentative title), Rowman and Littlefield. forthcoming.
    For four decades Ifeanyi Menkiti has addressed the question of which sort of community constitutes personhood from a characteristically African perspective. In this chapter, I critically discuss the conceptions of how one acquires personhood through community that Menkiti has advanced, in search of the one that would most enable him to avoid prominent moral objections made to his views over the years. In particular, his account of personhood has been criticized for insufficiently accommodating i…Read more
  •  34
    Recent work by comparative philosophers, global ethicists, and cross-cultural value theorists indicates that, unlike most Western thinkers, those in many other parts of the globe, such as indigenous Africa, East Asia, and Latin America, tend to prize relationality. These relational values include enjoying a sense of togetherness, participating cooperatively, creating something new together, engaging in mutual aid, and being compassionate. Global economic practices and internationally influential…Read more
  • Reprint of an essay first appearing in _Contemporary Philosophical Proposals for the University: Toward a Philosophy of Higher Education_ (2018).
  •  9
    The Meaning of Life
    In Elinor Mason & Tim Crane (eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, . forthcoming.
    A 3,000 word overview of English-speaking philosophical work on whether life can be meaningful, and, if so, in virtue of what.
  • Humility and the African Ethic of Ubuntu
    In Mark Alfano, Alessandra Tanesini & Michael Lynch (eds.), Handbook on the Philosophy of Humility, Routledge. forthcoming.
    This chapter explores prominent respects in which humility figures into not just the Afro-relational ethic of ubuntu, but also the epistemic perspectives that are usually associated with it in regard to moral knowledge. Focusing on philosophical ideas published in academic fora over the past 50 years or so, the chapter contends that, although the concept of humility has not often been explicitly invokedin them to make sense of African morality and epistemology , it is a useful lens through which…Read more
  • The Concept of a Meaningful Life
    In Iddo Landau (ed.), Oxford Handbook on Meaning in Life, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  • Replacing Development: An Afro-communal Approach to Global Justice
    In Mahmoud Masaeli & Rico Sneller (eds.), Ethics and Spirituality in Global Development, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. forthcoming.
    Reprint of an article first appearing in Philosophical Papers (2017).
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    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.
  •  15
    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.
  •  12
    Reprint of an article that initially appeared in _Ethical Theory and Moral Practice_ (2012)
  •  9
    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 va…Read more
  •  16
    A chapter composed largely for undergraduate and postgraduate students that considers whether general facts about morality and our ability to make moral judgements count in favor of either theism or atheism.
  •  40
    God, Soul and the Meaning of Life
    Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    Part of the Elements Philosophy of Religion series, this short book focuses on the spiritual dimensions of life’s meaning as they have been discussed in the recent English and mainly analytic philosophical literature. The overarching philosophical question that this literature has addressed is about the extent to which, and respects in which, spiritual realities such as God or a soul would confer meaning on our lives. There have been four broad answers to the question, namely: God or a soul is n…Read more
  •  22
    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
  •  75
    Meaning (Atheism)
    In Joseph W. Koterski & Graham Oppy (eds.), Theism and Atheism: Opposing Arguments in Philosophy, 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.
  •  32
    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
  •  6
    Addiction in the Light of African Values: Undermining Vitality and Community
    In Yamikani Ndasauka & Grivas Kayange (eds.), Addiction in South and East Africa, Palgrave Macmillan. 2019.
    Reprint of an article that first appeared in Monash Bioethics Review (2018).