Rebellion and African Ethics

Journal of Military Ethics 15 (4):288-298 (2016)
In this paper I draw on Thaddeus Metz’s pioneering work in African ethics, and particularly his account of the concept described by the terms ubuntu, botho, hunhu or utu, to sketch an African normative understanding of the act of rebellion against the authority of the state. Most commonly articulated in the phrase “a person is a person through other persons”, ubuntu is interpreted by Metz as a unique communitarian moral principle which can be described in its essence as the claim that “actions are right, or confer ubuntu on a person, insofar as they prize communal relationships, ones in which people identify with each other, or share a way of life, and exhibit solidarity toward one another, or care about each other’s quality of life”. On the face of it, this principle appears at odds with rebellions against state authority. Following Metz, I argue, however, that a deeper grasp of this principle does, in fact, provide a justification for instances of civilian rebellion against state authority, under appropriate circumstances.
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DOI 10.1080/15027570.2017.1284462
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