Moral force and the “it-it” in Menkiti’s normative conception of personhood

Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions 7 (2):47-60 (2018)
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Abstract

What is the status and nature of the “it” and the ontological progression from an “it” to an “it” in Ifeanyi Menkiti’s normative conception of a person? In this article, I attempt to preliminarily give some nuance content to the “it” of childhood and the “it” of the nameless dead. My motivation is straightforwardly simple: to defend Menkiti’s claim that both “its” have some depersonalised moral standing or existence. However, in doing so, I argue that a better account of the ontological progression of personhood is from an “it” to an “it-it” 1 rather than from an “it” to an “it.” On this modified version of the double hyphenated “its”, which is underpinned by the idea of moral force, the prior moral worth of the nameless dead is taken into account as valuable members of our collective immortality, notwithstanding the fact that their names have been forgotten. Keywords: African Philosophy, Collective Immortality, Menkiti, It, It-it, Moral Force, Nameless Dead, Personhood

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