Anthropocentrism, African Metaphysical Worldview, and Animal Practices: A Reply to Kai Horsthemke

Journal of Animal Ethics 7 (2):145-162 (2017)
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In his recently published book Animals and African Ethics, Kai Horsthemke makes two important and related claims. The first is that most African metaphysical, religious, and ethical positions and perspectives on animals are anthropocentric. Second, he states that if there are one or more principles of duties regarding other animals derivable from these positions and perspectives, they are at best “indirect duties.” In this article, I critically engage with these claims in the context of the ontological beliefs and ethical standpoints that flow from anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism. I argue that the African metaphysical worldview and African practices on animals are not anthropocentric. The nub of my argument is that a closer examination of African practices on animals and one dominant African metaphysical worldview—one that Horsthemke engages with in the book—presents us a different conclusion, one that suggests that the worldview and practices are conceivably biocentric or ecocentric rather than anthropocentric.



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Edwin Etieyibo
University of the Witwatersrand

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