Constitutional Court Review 9:113-134 (2019)

Thaddeus Metz
University of Pretoria
In this article, I seek to answer the following cluster of questions: What would a characteristically African, and specifically relational, conception of a criminal trial’s final end look like? What would the Afro-relational approach prescribe for sentencing? Would its implications for this matter forcefully rival the kinds of penalties that judges in South Africa and similar jurisdictions typically mete out? After pointing out how the southern African ethic of ubuntu is well understood as a relational ethic, I draw out of it a certain conception of reconciliation that I advance as a strong candidate for being the proper final end of a criminal trial. I argue that, far from requiring forgiveness, seeking reconciliation can provide strong reason to punish offenders. Specifically, a reconciliatory sentence is one that roughly has offenders reform their characters and compensate their victims in ways the offenders find burdensome, thereby disavowing the crime and tending to foster cooperation and mutual aid. I argue that this novel account of punishment is a prima facie attractive alternative to more familiar retributive and deterrence rationales, and that it entails that widespread practices such as imprisonment and mandatory minimum sentences are unjust.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

Crime and Punishment.[author unknown] - forthcoming - Latest Results.
Toward an African Moral Theory.Thaddeus Metz - 2007 - Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (3):321–341.
A Paternalistic Theory of Punishment.Herbert Morris - 1981 - American Philosophical Quarterly 18 (4):263 - 271.
Why Punish the Deserving?Douglas N. Husak - 1992 - Noûs 26 (4):447-464.
Playing Fair with Punishment.Richard Dagger - 1993 - Ethics 103 (3):473-488.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Just the Beginning for Ubuntu: Reply to Matolino and Kwindingwi.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):65-72.
In Defence of an Autocentric Account of Ubuntu.Jason van Niekerk - 2007 - South African Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):364-368.
A Humanist Ethic of Ubuntu: Understanding Moral Obligation and Community.Mark Tschaepe - 2013 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 21 (2):47-61.
Toward an African Moral Theory.Thaddeus Metz - 2007 - Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (3):321–341.
The Notion of Ubuntu and Communalism in African Educational Discourse.Elza Venter - 2004 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 23 (2/3):149-160.
Ubuntu, Ukama, Environment and Moral Education.Lesley Le Grange - 2012 - Journal of Moral Education 41 (3):329-340.
The Historical Development of the Written Discourses on Ubuntu.Christian Bn Gade - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):303-329.


Added to PP index

Total views
232 ( #48,221 of 2,507,638 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #41,925 of 2,507,638 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes