African Ethics and Partiality

Phronimon 17:104 - 122 (2016)

Motsamai Molefe
University of Witwatersrand
This article explores the question whether African ethics is best captured in terms of partiality or impartiality. I take one influential instance of a defence of impartiality in the African tradition, sympathetic impartiality, by Kwasi Wiredu, and I use it as a foil to represent African ethics; and, I argue, that impartiality, as represented by Wiredu, fails to cohere with moral intuitions characteristic of African moral thought, namely: high prize usually accorded to the family, veneration of ancestors and the notion of personhood. I merely touch on the first two intuitions; I base my argument largely on the normative concept of personhood that is considered to be definitive of African moral thought.
Keywords African ethics  Impartiality  Partiality
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