Cover of Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya
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1. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Oriare Nyarwath Editor’s Note
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2. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Tayo Raymond Ezekiel Eegunlusi Critical Reflections On Wiredu’s Consensual Democracy
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This paper argues that Kwasi Wiredu’s consensual democracy is an inadequate alternative to liberal democracy in contemporary Africa because it neglects the beliefs in supernatural realities underpinning governance and political decisions in traditional societies on the continent. The paper holds that as evident in their worldviews and activities, traditional Africans do not depersonalise entities or segregate physical realities from spiritual ones. Deploying historical and conceptual analyses, the paper contends that, essentially, the deficiency of Wiredu’s argument lies in his declining to acknowledge the roles oaths and covenants play in the sustenance of Africa’s traditional governance systems. The paper thus holds that Wiredu’s discountenancing of the role of beliefs in supernatural realities in African societies generally may have resulted in this gap in his understanding of indigenous African political thought and practice.
3. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Reginald M.J. Oduor The History of Ethnicised Politics in Kenya and its Impact on the Management of the Country’s Public Affairs
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This paper deploys historical analysis, conceptual analysis and critical reflection to examine the history of ethnicised politics in Kenya and its negative impact on the management of the country’s public affairs. It sets out with a conceptualisation of ‘ethnicised politics’. It then traces the growth of ethnicised politics in Kenya from the dawn of British colonialism to the present. Thereafter, it reflects on the five-pronged negative impact of ethnicised politics on the country, namely, the gross disparities in economic development along ethno-regional lines, the disproportionately limited economic opportunities for ethnic minorities, the stunting of the growth of issue-based politics, the stoking of violent inter-ethnic conflicts, and the vulnerability of highly urbanised persons and/or those born out of mixed marriages with no strong ethnic loyalties. It concludes that contrary to the widely-held view that Kenyans ought to abandon their ethnic identities in pursuit of ‘nation-building’, respect for the right to cultural identity and the promotion of inter-ethnic equity would make political mobilisation along ethnic lines less attractive.
4. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Godwin Azenabor Omoluabi: An African Conception of moral values
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The moral experience is a reality in every social and cultural life, with variations being in the interpretations given to experience. A people’s value system defines their identity. Consequently, this paper interrogates an example of an African theory of moral value against a moral developmental model, using the philosophical, expositional, analytical and comparative methods. The reflections in this paper focus on the Yoruba cultural context in Nigeria. The paper posits a relationship between a moral value system and development. It argues that the inability of the Nigerian state to attain enviable developmental status can be attributed to moral decadence, apart from inept leadership, ethnicity, antagonism, endless vendetta, political jingoism and cultural sub-nationalism. Since the goal of morality is peaceful co-existence, harmonious interaction, social cohesion and character development, the paper argues that Omoluabi traits can be appropriated to tackle moral problems and questions in contemporary Nigerian society. It concludes that the cultural heritage of Omoluabi can serve as a corpus of raw material for contemporary moral life, and contribute to tackling existential, moral and developmental challenges.
5. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Samuel Okok, Archangel Byaruhanga Rukooko, Jimmy Spire Ssentongo The Concept of Moral Integrity in Politics and its Contestations: Towards a Normative Approach
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For a long time, the concept of moral integrity in politics has been highly controversial. While many look at it from a moralist perspective demanding absolute observance of moral values and principles, some scholars, chiefly Niccolò Machiavelli and his many followers, believe that politics is typically devoid of moral considerations. Others, such as Demetris Tillyris, consider politics to be a distinct way of life with a moral yardstick distinct from ordinary moral standards. All these viewpoints are grounded on divergent understandings of the purpose of political power and how politicians ought to behave. This paper attempts to provide an exposition and critical analysis of the various contestations on integrity in politics. Through a normative ethical approach, it explores diverse theoretical perspectives with the aim of arriving at a comprehensive understanding of moral integrity in politics. The discussion and analysis in this paper are based on the theoretical lenses of the Aristotelian virtue ethics and the morality of power games.
6. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 2
Wamae W. Muriuki The Problem of “Knowing” and “Doing” in Shinran's Buddhist Ethics
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For Shinran (親鸞1173-1262), the founder of Japan's Shinshū (True Pure Land) school of Pure Land Buddhism, the question of how to do the right thing was constrained by the larger problem of how to discern the right thing to do. In his view, human behaviour was constrained by two large issues: the problem of the times and context in which human beings live, mappō, and the consequent problem that human beings were not capable of properly distinguishing between right and wrong, good and evil, and thus could commit any kind of act. This paper argues, drawing upon Merleau-Ponty’s account of “flesh” and the “horizon”, that the possibility of living and acting ethically in the present, among others, depends upon relationships of care and compassion between and among others, within close networks of human relationality, rather than upon abstract ethical absolutes.
7. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Oriare Nyarwath Editor’s Note
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8. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Helen Lauer Scientific Consensus, Doctrinal Paradox and Discursive Dilemma
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Global ignorance about Africa continues to sustain inappropriate global interventions to resolve public health crises, often with disastrous consequences. To explain why this continues to happen, I marshal two theorems that predict basic statistical properties, called ‘the doctrinal paradox’ and ‘the discursive dilemma’, which underlie scientific consensus formation and evidence-based decision making on a global scale. These mathematical results illuminate the epistemic and material injustices committed by the protocols of medical research conducted at the highest level of global knowledge production in the service of international humanitarian aid for Africans. These social choice theorems reveal that a global scientific consensus projecting claims and proposing policies about Africa’s disease burden is likely to yield a low degree of reliability, in that the probability of its accuracy is less than chance. The solution to this anomaly is to remove from the global scientific agenda the statistically unrealisable demand of satisfying too many multinational corporate and foreign governments’ priorities as equally entitled to benefit from the knowledge produced to improve Africa’s public health sector. Instead, foreign funding targeted to support medical science and policy in Africa should be directed by those specialists in situ who are most familiar with their own national health challenges and potential solutions, rather than relying upon foreign decision makers to interpret Africa’s emergency public health care needs.
9. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Joseph Situma, Beneah M. Mutsotso The Factor of Knowledge Implementation and the Development Status of Sub-Saharan African Countries
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Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have generally remained relatively poor for many decades, despite various internal and external measures. Every year, African governments conceive and implement poverty reduction and eradication policies, and multi-lateral agencies and developed countries provide development assistance to enable SSA countries achieve their development goals. This article utilises systems theory to advance the thesis that sub-Saharan countries’ failure to develop is, to a significant extent, a consequence of poor knowledge utilisation. The significance of knowledge utilisation arises from the fact that in modern society, differentiation is pronounced and each sphere requires special knowledge for optimal outcomes. However, in sub-Saharan countries, knowledge is largely utilised to secure the vulgar goals of the political elite. When knowledge is perceived to require policies that are in disharmony with those goals, it is not utilised. This paper demonstrates that the selective under-utilisation of knowledge accounts for the failure of sub-Saharan countries to realise their development goals. The analysis concludes that while in his Social Systems Niklas Luhmann conceived society to be a constituent of systems and sub-systems that work to enable it to maintain and renew itself, in SSA countries dysfunctional political systems impede the process of self-maintenance and self-renewal. As such, Sub-Saharan states must re-orient to utilise knowledge correctly.
10. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Leye Komolafe African Jurisprudence as Historical Co-extension of Diffused Legal Theories
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African jurisprudence, like African philosophy, continues to be hotly debated. This article contends that the debate straddles the uniqueness claim which either emphasises the existence or possibility of a peculiar legal framework on the continent, and a historical co-extensional position reiterating that African jurisprudence is a continuum of other legal traditions. The article argues that there is no uniquely African jurisprudence, and that what obtains within the structures of jurisprudence on the continent also exists within various legal traditions elsewhere, and as such can at best be described as ‘jurisprudence in Africa’ rather than ‘African jurisprudence’. It defends this thesis through analytic and comparative explications of the content of natural law theory and legal positivism as experienced on the continent. It concedes that relics of the colonial legal experience create contestations that inform scholars’ calls for a return to traditional legal systems. It concludes that a reconstructive jurisprudence in Africa must take cognisance of the continent’s historical and evolutionary legal experiences, but that a unified or monolithic theory may not be sufficient to address the choice of functional jurisprudence.
11. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Badru Ronald Olufemi The Philosophy of Globalisation and African Culture
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This paper examines two claims about the ontology of globalisation. First, it interrogates the claim that the contemporary phenomenon of globalisation is underpinned by the theoretical construct of economic and information-epistemic determinism (EI-ED), which has been developmentally significant in the North. The paper contends that this claim is likely to propagate some values that ought not to undergird the end-state vision of the prospective global village (PGV) if the PGV is to be essentially conjunctive rather than essentially disjunctive. Second, the paper contends that if a cohesive and egalitarian PGV is truly the end-point of the philosophy of globalisation, then the African socio-cultural values of a relational understanding of the self and universal brotherhood ought to be globally recognised and emphasised by the North as fundamental to the realisation of the vision of the PGV. The paper seeks to illustrate that if properly applied to the globalising process, these cultural values are ontologically conjunctive in the sense that they have the potential to promote the building of a cohesive and egalitarian global village, since they tend to encourage acceptance and co-operation among the different peoples of the world.
12. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Pamela Olivia Ngesa, Felix Kiruthu, Mildred J. Ndeda Colonialism and the Repression of Nairobi African Women Street Traders in the 1940s
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By the 1940s, the Municipal Council of Nairobi had enacted a host of By-Laws to control the presence of Africans, especially women, and had set up several agencies to implement them. Consequently, women street vendors were not only denied access to legal trade, but remained unwanted in the town except under very special circumstances. Nonetheless, pushed by their adversity, a number of them resorted to illegal hawking and demonstrated their resilience against the odds. However, as the hawkers’ earnings subsidised the colonial low wage migrant labour system, it became difficult for the colonial administration in Nairobi to resolutely stamp out their activities, especially in Eastlands. Besides, by the end of the 1940s, the Council’s fight against hawking had slackened owing to unsustainable expenses. This paper examines the effect of colonial repression of African women street traders in Nairobi’s Eastlands area in the 1940s. Using the Gender and Development (GAD) perspective along with data mainly from libraries, archives and oral sources, it interrogates the women’s attractions to Nairobi and the logic behind their street trading activities. It also examines the colonial dynamics that exploited the attitudes and beliefs of African male elders to validate the colonial government’s gender marginalisation policies against women, particularly the hawkers. The paper concludes that the gender-based constraints against African women traders notwithstanding, propelled by need, the women irrepressibly struggled to find space in the prosperous economy of Nairobi in the 1940s.
13. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Reginald M.J. Oduor Editor’s Note
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14. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Barry Hallen Personhood in a Communitarian Context
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Theories regarding the nature and achievement of personhood in a communitarian context appear to differ in significant respects in the writings of several contemporary African philosophers. Ifeanyi Menkiti seems to regard ethnic differences as sufficient to warrant a national accommodation of multiculturalism with respect to moralities and attendant beliefs. Kwasi Wiredu argues that there is a substantive universal moral principle that undercuts such apparent and relatively superficial diversity. Communitarianism also seems to provide a better framework for explaining how a human being becomes a person than classical liberal theory as enunciated by someone like John Rawls.
15. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ronald Olufemi Badru Colonial Legal Reasoning in the Post-Colonial African State: A Critique and a Defense of the Argument from African Metaphysical Epistemology
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This article focuses on legal reasoning and legal epistemology within the African context. It examines the system of legal justice in post-colonial Africa and submits that because of the colonial legacy, post-colonial African legal reasoning is methodologically founded on empiricism and positivism. It avers that despite its merit of scientific objectivity, such legal reasoning is largely incapable of addressing offences committed through the manipulation of metaphysical realities or other forms of covert criminalities and wrongdoing. Consequently, the article proposes that the methodology of African metaphysical epistemology be adopted to complement the colonial methodology of legal reasoning in Africa, as it has the advantageous result of helping in the search for truth concerning such offences, thereby promoting the delivery of effective legal justice, and thus contributing significantly to the development of a balanced and reliable justice system in contemporary African societies. The methods of critical analysis, reflective argumentation and oral interview were adopted to pursue the goals of the study.
16. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Workineh Kelbessa Climate Ethics and Policy in Africa
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In this article, I use case studies from some African countries to determine whether or not African climate management policies have been guided by ethical principles. I argue that although climate change is fundamentally an ethical issue, African policymakers have not paid sufficient attention to ethical principles in this regard. I argue that the major ethical principles embodied in different African traditions can assist African and non-African countries to address the challenges occasioned by climate change. Finally, I suggest that technological societies whose current emissions most exceed their fair share of emissions ought to give attention to justice, and play their respective roles in averting the most extreme effects of climate change.
17. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Olusegun Noah Olawoyin John Hick’s Philosophy of Religious Pluralism in the Context of Traditional Yoruba Religion
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This article is an interpretation of John Hick’s philosophy of religious pluralism in the context of traditional Yoruba religion. The ultimate goal of the article is pragmatic, viz. to provide a theoretical basis for peaceful coexistence among different religions in Nigeria. The methods adopted to achieve this objective are hermeneutical/analytical and comparative. Hick’s theory is interpreted and analysed before it is applied to traditional Yoruba theology. His concept of the Transcendent or Ultimate Reality is equated with the Yoruba concept of the Supreme Being or Olodumare. Both Hickean Ultimate Reality and Olodumare are conceived as transcategorial. However, Yoruba divinities are equated with Hick’s personae and impersonae of the Real: like the personae and impersonae of Hickean Ultimate Reality, the divinities are manifestations of Olodumare. This interpretative method can be used to account for differences in the conceptions of the Supreme Being among competing religions in Nigeria, especially Islam and Christianity in their conceptions of God.
18. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
H.M. Majeed Reincarnation, Predestination and Moral Responsibility: Critical Issues in Akan Philosophy
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African scholars such as Bolaji Idowu and John Mbiti have argued that belief in reincarnation is alien to African thought. However, this article argues that an adequate understanding of the Ghanaian Akan culture points to the presence of reincarnation in Akan, and for that matter African, philosophy. Nevertheless, unlike in Indian philosophy, for instance, where reincarnation depends on the quality of an individual’s moral life and is a means of ensuring moral responsibility, in Akan philosophy reincarnation is not dependent on moral considerations. Yet there is the idea of moral responsibility in Akan philosophy. The article interrogates how moral responsibility, an idea which is ordinarily regarded as reasonable in the presence of free will, is in the case of the Akan held alongside predestination. The article also reveals some serious philosophical difficulties which this Akan conception of moral responsibility generates in respect of the ‘reincarnated’ person.
19. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Reginald M.J. Oduor Eternal Damnation: A Reply to Karori Mbugua’s “Gentler Theology of Hell”
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This article is a reply to Karori Mbugua’s article titled “The Problem of Hell Revisited: Towards a Gentler Theology of Hell” (Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya, New Series, Vol.3 No.2, December 2011, pp.93-103). The present article does not in any way seek to argue for or against the existence of eternal damnation. Instead, it advances the view that while Mbugua raises important philosophical issues around the question of eternal damnation, those questions deserve a more incisive treatment than Mbugua accorded them. The article further argues that as with all other matters touching on the way things are rather than the way they ought to be, the answer to the question as to whether or not eternal damnation exists cannot be determined by our opinions - its existence or nonexistence is an objective fact. Consequently, philosophers cannot revise the fact to their liking; what they can do is to accept or reject the doctrine of eternal damnation altogether on rational grounds, but with no assurance that the objective fact is on their chosen side.
20. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Reginald M.J. Oduor Editor’s Note
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