Relational Economics: An African Approach to Distributive Justice

Ethical Perspectives (forthcoming)
Thaddeus Metz
University of Johannesburg
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 theories pertaining to justice, development, and normative economics over the past 50 years have been principally informed by characteristically Western and individualist values such as utility, autonomy, and capability. In this article I consider what economic appropriation, production, distribution, and consumption would look like if they were more influenced by relational values typical of non-Western worldviews, and especially the sub-Saharan ethic of ubuntu.
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