African Ethics

In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell. pp. 129-38 (2013)
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I critically discuss contemporary work in African, i.e., sub-Saharan, moral philosophy that has been written in English. I begin by providing an overview of the profession, after which I consider some of the major issues in normative ethics, then discuss a few of the more noteworthy research in applied ethics, and finally take up the key issues in meta-ethics. My aim is to highlight discussions that should be of interest to an ethicist working anywhere in the world, focusing on ideas characteristic of the sub-Saharan region that are under-appreciated not merely for the purpose of comparative ethics, but also for substantive ethical argumentation. In particular, I maintain that there are kinds of communitarian and vitalist approaches to morality commonly held by sub-Saharan philosophers that international scholars should take seriously as genuine rivals to utilitarian, Kantian, contractarian, and care-oriented outlooks that dominate contemporary Euro-American discussion of ethically right action.

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Thaddeus Metz
University of Pretoria


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