In this paper, I argue that Ubuntu can be construed as a strict form of cosmopolitan moral and political theory. The implication of this is that the duty or obligation that humans owe other humans arises in virtue of humanity or the notion of human-ness. That is, one is a person insofar as he or she forms humane relations and it is this particular way of beingness that makes every person both an object and subject of duty. On this cosmopolitan (...) interpretation of Ubuntu, I therefore, argue that Ubuntu would support the principle of natural resource redistribution according to which all humans fall within the scope of justice and the principles of distributive justice. If this is right, then Ubuntu’s cosmopolitanism has something to contribute generally to cosmopolitanism, as an account of global justice. (shrink)
This book takes stock of the strides made to date in African philosophy. Authors focus on four important aspects of African philosophy: the history, methodological debates, substantive issues in the field, and direction for the future. By collating this anthology, Edwin E. Etieyibo excavates both current and primordial knowledge in African philosophy, enhancing the development of this growing field.
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. (shrink)
The debate over the host of moral issues that genetic enhancement technology (GET) raises has been significant. One argument that has been advanced to impugn its moral legitimacy is the ‘unfair advantage argument’ (UAA), which states: allowing access to GET to be determined by socio-economic status would lead to unjust outcomes, namely, create a genetic caste system, and with it the exacerbation and perpetuation of existing socio-economic inequalities. Fritz Allhoff has recently objected to the argument, the kernel of which is (...) that it conflates the use of the technology with its distribution. GET, he argues, would generate unjust outcomes only if it is distributed according to principles of an unjust pattern of distribution; for if we can determine what constitutes a ‘just’ distributive scheme, then the technology can be allocated according to the principles of that scheme. In this paper I argue the following cluster of related claims: (1) both UAA and Allhoff's proposed distributive schemes ignore the importance of non-genetic factors in the development of an individual's characteristics and capacities; (2) if we accept the view that it is good to prevent unjust outcomes that arise because some have exclusive access to GET, then we have to accept wide-ranging distributive schemes; (3) by tracking genetic and non-genetic factors wide-ranging schemes do violate in some sense the widely shared value of neutrality in liberal democracies. (shrink)
One of the practical ethical areas that Thaddeus Metz applied his Relational Moral Theory (RMT) to is business ethics. In this important area of applied ethics, Metz examines the question of how business owners, and related agents ought to deal with others, especially workers and consumers. He argues that the relational account of obligations recommends a stakeholder model of business and provides a plausible alternative (if not better to) familiar kinds of utilitarianism and Kantianism. In this article, I discuss and (...) engage with this claim by raising a number of issues for RMT. For although I believe that Metz’s moral account could, in general and under certain description, be positioned as a viable competitor to utilitarianism and Kantianism, it is not clear that in certain theoretical aspects of the stakeholder account of business, it fares better than, for example, utilitarianism. Furthermore, I argue, on the one hand, that RMT should be understood as a _heterochthonous account_ of African ethics and, on the other hand, that an _autochthonous account_ of African ethics captures better or comes closer to the moral sensibilities of indigenous Africans. An _autochthonous account_ of African ethics has a different take on the issue of the stakeholder model of business and does conceptualize the business relationship in terms of needs and welfare whereby a “distant” individual may be owed more duties than a “local” individual. (shrink)
ABSTRACT There are forms of discriminations that are not defensible, and unjustified discriminations manifest in different forms. One such manifestation is racism, which involves the use of morally arbitrary natural and moral constituents (characteristics, abilities, qualities) to demarcate racial or ethnic groups and consequently designate some groups as superior and others as inferior. In this article, I discuss one form of racism (intellectual racism), namely, racism in relation to color, as a way of highlighting how the notion of superiority and (...) inferiority of racial or ethnic groups (Caucasian and Africans) play out in the intellectual landscape and discourse. Ultimately, my motivations are threefold: one, to signify and engage with some views of racial coloring and color eliminativism; two, to make and extend the position that color eliminativism is not defensible; and three, to highlight and emphasize the claim that given the notion of a “one-colored humanity,” racial groups ought not to be classified as superior or inferior. (shrink)
The conventioral understanding takes God to pray a pivotal philosophical role in Descartes's epistemological project. Michael Della Rocca disagrees with this interpretation. In a recent article, " Descartes, the Cartesian Circle, and epistemology without God," he forcefully argues for the view that takes God to be peripheral and at the fringe of Descartes's account of knowledge. He argues that Descartes renders God less important in his epistemology simply in virtue of having normative certainty of clear and distinct ideas or perceptions (...) prior to his theological argument. This paper generally argues that although it could be said that Descartes has normative certainty of some claims before his arguments for God's existence, it is misleading to claim that God plays no pivotal philosophical role in Descartes's epistemological project. In particular, it argues that since the relevant conditions for scientia for Descartes include normative certainty of clear and distinct perceptions and understanding of the metaphysical foundations of cognition it is mistaken to suppose that God takes on a less than central role in Descartes's epistemology. (shrink)
As an international instrument on climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change embraces a general obligation to protect the climate system, from which some specific obligations for developed countries fall off from. In this paper, I discuss three of such obligations. Firstly, the obligation to address the causes of climate change and to mitigate its adverse effects, next, the obligation to assist developing countries that are vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs (...) of adaptation to those adverse effects and finally, the obligation to support other developing countries by providing them with appropriate resources in order for them to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. I show that these obligations are framed in the treaty as obligations of beneficence and suggest that the first two can be expressed as obligations of justice. I argue for the soundness of expressing the obligations this way and that doing so may have the added virtue of addressing both the egoistic and performance problems since it introduces some incentive for taking the obligations seriously and the possibility for their realization. (shrink)
This volume is a collection of chapters about contemporary issues within African philosophy. They are issues African philosophy must grapple with to demonstrate its readiness to make a stand against some of the challenges society faces in the coming decade such as xenophobia, Afro-phobia, extreme poverty, democratic failure and migration. The text covers new methodical directions and there is focus on the conversationalist, complementarist and consolationist movements within the field as well as the place of the Indigenous Knowledge System.The collection (...) speaks to African philosophy’s place in intellectual history with coverage of African Ethics and African socio-political philosophy. Contributors come from a variety of different backgrounds, institutions and countries. Through their innovative ideas, they provide fresh insight and intellectual energy. The book appeals to philosophy students and researchers. (shrink)
This collection is about composing thought at the level of modernism and decomposing it at the postmodern level where many cocks might crow with African philosophy as a focal point. It has two parts: part one is titled 'The journey of reason in African philosophy', and part two is titled 'African philosophy and postmodern thinking'. There are seven chapters in both parts. Five of the essays are reprinted here as important selections while nine are completely new essays commissioned for this (...) book. As their titles suggest, in part one, African philosophy is unfolded in the manifestation of reason as embedded in modern thought while in part two, it draws the effect of reason as implicated in the postmodern orientation. The idea of the book is to open new vistas for the discipline of African philosophy. African philosophy is thus presented as a disagreement discourse. Without rivalry of thoughts, Africa will settle for far less. This gives postmodernism an important place, perhaps deservedly more important than history of philosophy allocates to it. It is that philosophical moment that says 'philosophers must cease speaking like gods in their hegemonic cultural shrines and begin to converse across borders with one another'. In this conversation, the goal for African philosophers must not be to find final answers but to sustain the conversation which alone can extend human reason to its furthermost reaches. (shrink)
The subject of the book is about attitudes and reactions to different kinds of disabilities as well as remediation policies in Nigeria. It covers a number of areas including disabilities studies, education and philosophy of education.
In this paper I examine five essential themes in Brand Blanshard's coherence theory of truth. Blanshard defines truth in terms of the rational or the interdependence of concepts, where concepts determine objects of experience rather than merely conform to them. On this view, truth is contextual and is the approximation of thought to reality or the systemization of the two ends - the immanent and transcendent. I raise some worries for this account of truth, foremost of which is the worry (...) that it commits us to a deep-seated skepticism, both theoretical and practical. In order to be able to tell when the immanent end is achieved and if it is making progress towards the transcendent end (i.e., when the ultimate systematization is realized), we require an omniscient standpoint of cosmic order or overarching system of beliefs. While this seems possible in principle it is not so in practice. (shrink)
This book examines issues relating to Menkiti’s “Person and Community in African Traditional Thought,” which articulates an African notion of personhood. Contributors not only show that personhood is normative but also explore the implications this notion of personhood and citizenship holds for the nation-state in Africa.
René Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy is his most celebrated philosophical work. The book remains one of the most significant and influential works in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of mind in the history of Western philosophy. In this paper I examine the relationship between the various hyperbolic doubts, the dreaming, imperfect creator, and evil demon hypotheses in Meditation I. The paper shows that the "painting analogy" occupies a central position in the First Meditation not only because it effectively links together (...) the hyperbolic doubts, but also because it lays the groundwork for the claim that although it may be impossible for us to know things outside us as our thoughts represent them to be, we can know at least the feature of our thoughts themselves. By raising the necessary doubt about our sensible experience and the corporeal world, the "painting analogy" makes the case for the primacy of the intellectual world. (shrink)
In line with the tradition of the Conversational School of Philosophy, this essay provides a rare and unique space of discourse for the authors to converse about the place of the ‘ethno’ in African philosophy. This conversation is a revisit, a renewal of the key positions that have coloured the ethnophilosophy debate by the conversers who themselves are notable contributors to arguments for and against the importance of ethnophilosophy in the unfolding of African philosophy particularly in the last decade or (...) so. There are four key positions that have been argued for in the pages of this paper: ethnophilosophy is not African philosophy and it is useless and inimical to the growth of African philosophy and should thus be jettisoned – Matolino; ethnophilosophy is the foundation for African philosophy as it provides the raw materials for African philosophical discourse – Ogbonnaya and Agada; ethnophilosophy has some value for African philosophy but it is definitely not the foundation for genuine African philosophy the way criticism and rigours are – Attoe; and ethnophilosophy can be adequately conceived as African philosophy particularly in terms of its etymology as culture or race philosophy, dealing with a philosophical or critical reflections on, and exposition of, immanent principles in African thought – Mangena and Etieyibo. These conversers provide good arguments for the positions they hold, arguments that are of course, open for further interrogation. Two points can be concluded from the ethnophilosophy debate provided in this essay: the disparities in views among conversers it seems, stem ultimately from the understanding of ethnophilosophy that each converser holds, which varies from the notion of a method used at some point in the history of African philosophy, to an etymological understanding as culture philosophy; and the debate about ethnophilosophy in the spirit of any philosophical tradition remains a perennial one that is yet to be concluded. This essay certainly concretises what is on ground and paves the way for further discussions. Keywords: Ethno, African philosophy, Foundationalist, Universalist, Particularist, The common moral position, Ethnophilosophy. (shrink)
Bargaining and distribution of benefits accruing from social cooperation are central topics in contractarian accounts of morality or distributive justice in general and David Gauthier’s Morals by Agreement in particular. In this paper, I raise some problems for MbA both with regards to bargaining over the benefits of social cooperation and the distribution of such benefits. The worries I raise piggyback on a couple of Jan Narveson’s earlier queries of some of the topics in MbA: those of ‘questionable foundation’ and (...) redundancy. However, I go beyond the substance of these queries by arguing that they raise fundamental worries about the correctness of the description of the elements of the bargaining situation, and the role and significance of agreement in MbA. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Aristotle is credited with the first full-fledged robust philosophical discussion and presentation of substance. His account of substance presents different notions of substance, which were elaborated on and modified in the medieval and modern periods. Among those that elaborated on the conception of substance in the modern period are Rene Descartes, John Locke, Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza, George Berkeley, Gottfried Leibniz, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. What is the nature of substance and how is it understood by these philosophers? (...) In this paper I examine the notions of substance in the philosophical systems of Locke, Spinoza, and Kant. I go beyond this comparative and exploratory exercise to show why Kant takes on a more expansive notion of substance. In particular, for Kant the conceptions of substance we find in Locke and Spinoza do not allow the idea of substance to do the work that substance as a pure concept of the understanding should do. (shrink)
This paper seeks to determine whether or not the divesture of Nigeria’s state-owned enterprises by the Federal Government of Nigeria is ethical. Towards this end, it employs an analytic methodology to undertake a conceptual examination of the divesture of Nigeria’s SOEs by the FGN. The paper’s findings are: A large proportion of the Nigerian citizenry is opposed to its government’s privatization policy. A conducive socio-economic environment for privatization is lacking in Nigeria.The paper concludes that although privatization in general may be (...) a “good” policy, it is ethically wrong for the FGN to privatize some of its SOEs, given the absence of a conducive socio-economic milieu. (shrink)
The claim that is examined in this chapter is that, as is bivalent logic, trivalent logic occupies a place in the field of logic. A trivalent logic is a three-value logical system, and a bivalent logic is a two-value logical system. As part of advancing this claim, the chapter uses the examples of trivalent logic in Charles Sanders Peirce’s thought, the trivalent logic of Janus, the Aymará trivalent logical system, and African trivalent logic. Using the example of ancestorhood, where characteristically (...) an ancestor, as a living dead, is both a spiritual and physical entity or is considered neither a spiritual nor physical being, the overarching view or thesis that is defended and advanced is that African trivalent logic mirrors a trivalent African metaphysics or ontology. (shrink)
In this chapter, I begin the first attempt at mapping out what I consider to be the one concept of African ethics and some of its many accounts. I take the one concept of African ethics to be the general idea or notion of African morality and the many accounts to be narrations or versions that try to flesh out this concept. Regarding the one concept of African ethics, I suggest that constitutive of it or characteristic of it is communal (...) flourishing. Taking Ubuntu, Ujamaa, and Ukama as representatives of the many accounts of African ethics, I highlight the sense in which they constitute developments or narrations of the general notion of communal flourishing. (shrink)
Kwasi Wiredu proposed a democracy by consensus, inspired by the consensual practices of the traditional Akan of Africa. But his presentation of the traditional consensual practices has been criticized for inaccurateness. Helen Lauer embarks on what she sees as cleaning the debate of the misreading of Wiredu’s presentation of traditional consensual practices by his critics. This is commendable. However, we claim that she does not succeed in the task that she set out to do. We argue that her failure partly (...) has to do with her subscribing to a one-sided assessment of such a history, which influenced the manner she evaluated the debate and some of the fallacies that crept into analysis. (shrink)
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”5 rather than from an “it” to an “it.” On this modified version of the double hyphenated “its”, which isunderpinned 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. (shrink)
I want to do a couple of things in this essay. First, I want to articulate the central direction that postmodern thinking or philosophy takes. Second, I want to present a brief sketch of African philosophy, focusing mostly on some aspects of African ethics. Third, I want togesture towards the view that while postmodern thinking seems to suggest that African philosophy is a legitimate narrative or “language game” it could beargued that given its central ideas and doctrines African philosophy may (...) be open to some of the worries facing modern thinking. (shrink)