African Conceptions of Human Dignity: Vitality and Community as the Ground of Human Rights

Human Rights Review 13 (1):19-37 (2012)
I seek to advance enquiry into the philosophical question of in virtue of what human beings have a dignity of the sort that grounds human rights. I first draw on values salient in sub-Saharan African moral thought to construct two theoretically promising conceptions of human dignity, one grounded on vitality, or liveliness, and the other on our communal nature. I then argue that the vitality conception cannot account for several human rights that we intuitively have, while the community conception can do so. I conclude that, of plausible theories of human dignity with an African pedigree, the field ought to favour a community-based view and critically compare it in future work with the Kantian, autonomy-based view that dominates Western thinking about dignity.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12142-011-0200-4
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Doris Schroeder (2012). Human Rights and Human Dignity. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):323-335.
Shaoping Gan (2009). Human Dignity as a Right. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370-384.
Thaddeus Metz (2014). Dignity in the Ubuntu Tradition. In Marcus Düwell (ed.), Cambridge Handbook on Human Dignity. Cambridge University Press 310-18.
Katherine Eddy (2007). On Revaluing the Currency of Human Rights. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 6 (3):307-328.
Manuel Toscano (2011). Human Dignity as High Moral Status. Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 6 (2):4-25.
Gan Shaoping & Zhang Lin (2009). Human Dignity as a Right. Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370 - 384.
Thaddeus Metz (2012). African Values and Capital Punishment. In Gerard Walmsley (ed.), African Philosophy and the Future of Africa. Council for Research in Values and Philosophy 83-90.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

84 ( #39,917 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #84,767 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.