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21. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Barry Hallen “Ethnophilosophy” Redefined?
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The meaning of the term “ethnophilosophy” has evolved in both a significant and controversial variety of ways since it was first introduced by Paulin Hountondji in 1970. It was first challenged by the Kenyan philosopher, H. Odera Oruka, as based upon Hountondji’s unfair appreciation of Africa’s indigenous cultural heritage. Barry Hallen and J. Olubi Sodipo, using a form of analytic philosophy as foundational, thereafter argued that Yoruba ordinary language discourse also served to undermine Hountondji’s critique. The later work of the Ghanaian philosopher, Kwame Gyekye, and the Kenyan D. A. Masolo have further legitimized the epistemological status of elements of African culture that once would have been labeled as of no genuine philosophical significance because they were ‘ethnophilosophical’ in character. The end result of this debate seems to be that both the form and content of philosophy in culture generally must be relativized.The most significant consequence of this would be that African and non-Western philosophy generally would finally be culturally liberated from the oppressive influence, indeed dominance, of what has conventionally come to be known as ‘mainstream’ (Western) philosophy.
22. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Sirkku K. Hellsten Empowering the Invisible: Women, Local Culture and Global Human Rights Protection
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This paper examines the problems that various contemporary human rights discourses face with relativism, with special reference to the global protection of women’s rights. These problems are set within the theoretical debate between the Western liberal individualism on the one hand, and African, Asian and Islamic collectivist communitarianism on the other. Instead of trying to prove the superiority of one theoretical approach over the other, the purpose here is to point out some of the most common logical fallacies and cultural biases that have led to false polarizations between the various theoretical foundations of human rights discourse. The paper highlights these errors and inaccuracies with a view to diminishing the dichotomies between the various philosophical foundations of human rights, particularly in connection to the promotion of women’s rights. This is done in order to pave the way for more open and impartial political, cultural and gender dialogue in the promotion of human rights both in theory and in practice.
23. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Atieno Kili K’Odhiambo, Samson O. Gunga The Impact of the Interaction between Verbal and Mathematical Languages in Education
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Since the methods employed during teacher-learner interchange are constrained by the internal structure of a discipline, a study of the interaction amongst verbal language, technical language and structure of disciplines is at the heart of the classic problem of transfer in teaching-learning situations. This paper utilizes the analytic method of philosophy to explore aspects of the role of language in mathematics education, and attempts to harmonize mathematical meanings exposed by verbal language and the precise meanings expressed by the mathematics register (MR) formulated in verbal language. While focusing on the integration of language use and meaning construction in mathematics education, the paper explores the relationship between the conceptual understanding revealed by the mathematics register and the procedural knowledge that refers to the mathematical content through ordinary discourse.
24. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Lawrence Murugu Mute Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Ensuring the Right to Vote for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities In Kenya
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Is it self-evident that every Kenyan adult citizen should have the right to vote at national and civic elections or referenda? This is not always the case: certain segments of the population are expressly or implicitly excluded by law or practice from the franchise. This paper suggests that the concept of unsoundness of mind should no longer be the basis for excluding persons with disabilities generally, and those with intellectual disabilities in particular, from voting. It traces provisions in law that disenfranchise persons adjudged to be of unsound mind; and provides interpretation using national law as well as international human rights norms to infer that general or automatic disenfranchisement is a human rights violation. It concludes that Kenya’s electoral authorities must ensure that neither their policies nor the practices of their officials disenfranchise some Kenyan adults from voting by equating such persons’ mental illness or intellectual disabilities with “unsoundness of mind”.
25. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Ademola Kazeem Fayemi Cultural Universals and Particulars in the Philosophy of Kwasi Wiredu: Some Comments
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This paper seeks to advance the horizon of Kwasi Wiredu’s philosophical defense of the compatibility of cultural universals and particulars. Wiredu reflects on language, biological identity, inter/intra cultural communication, as well as epistemic and moral fundamentals as cultural universals. In pursuing further Wiredu’s thesis on cultural universals, the present paper critically examines some of the inconsistencies implicit in Wiredu’s position. As a consequence, the paper extends the frontiers of the realm of universals by establishing the plausibility of causality as another instance of a conceptual universal, transcending all cultural particularities.
26. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
J.O. Famakinwa How Moderate is Kwame Gyekye’s Moderate Communitarianism?
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This article undertakes a critical examination of Kwame Gyekye’s main arguments for moderate communitarianism. Contrary to the general belief among African scholars, it contends that Gyekye’s moderate communitarianism, as he presents it in Tradition and Modernity (1997), is not as moderate as he believes it to be. The article also seeks to show that the gap which Gyekye claims exists between moderate or restricted and unrestricted communitarianism is not as wide as he suggests.
27. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Philomena A. Ojomo An African Understanding of Environmental Ethics
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Global concerns about the current environmental crisis have culminated in some controversial environmental ethical theories, among which are normative environmental ethics, sentientist ethics, biocentric ethics, ecocentric ethics and eco-feminist ethics. One of the underlying features connecting these environmental ethical theories is their grounding in Western perspectives and cultural experiences. Given that environmental concerns are global, and that the goal of environmental ethics is to address those concerns, critical explorations of environmental ethics need to go beyond the Western horizon. Nevertheless, very few African scholars have investigated the African people’s understanding of the current environmental crisis, and the African perspective on environmental ethics. However, Segun Ogungbemi and Godfrey Tangwa have pioneered philosophical discussions on environmental ethics from an African point of view. Ogungbemi defends what he calls “ethics of nature-relatedness”, while Tangwa proposes “eco-bio-communitarianism”. This paper is a contribution to the consolidation of an African orientation in environmental ethics through a critique and reconstruction of the African perspective on the environment as presented, separately, by Ogungbemi and Tangwa.
28. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Idowu William From Cultural Popularity to the Paradox of Relevance: A Critical Discourse on the Endangered Status of Citizenship Theory
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The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the endangered status of the concept of citizenship. The methodology employed consists of textual analysis and philosophical argumentation. The main findings of the paper are:(1) The boundary of the meaning of citizenship keeps changing.(2) Citizenship constitutes one of the most worrisome sources of conflict in modern states.(3) There is no objectively correct interpretation of citizenship, both in its historical and contemporary understanding.The conclusion drawn from the findings is that various factors, especially the multicultural character of most contemporary societies, are impinging on the possibility of developing a theory of citizenship that is universally applicable and globally acceptable.
29. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Edwin Etieyibo The Ethics of Government Privatisation in Nigeria
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This paper seeks to determine whether or not the divesture of Nigeria’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) 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:(1) A large proportion of the Nigerian citizenry is opposed to its government’s privatization policy.(2) 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 (and perhaps most) of its SOEs, given the absence of a conducive socio-economic milieu.
30. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Reginald M.J. Oduor Justifying Non-Violent Civil Disobedience within the Kenyan Context: A Moral Perspective
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This paper employs the critical and analytical techniques of philosophical reflection to present a moral justification for the use of non-violent civil disobedience by Kenyan citizens in pursuit of their aspirations. It sets out with a brief review of political disobedience in Kenya from the advent of the British invasion and domination of the country in the late nineteenth century to the present. Next, it examines the nature of non-violent civil disobedience, outlining the views of four of its most influential advocates, namely, Étienne de La Boétie, Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Karmachand Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. It then offers a moral justification for non-violent civil disobedience by presenting nine arguments in its favour, with special reference to the Kenyan context. Thereafter, it answers six objections to non-violent civil disobedience. The paper concludes that it is high time that Kenyans gave serious consideration to a commitment to non-violent civil disobedience.
31. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
James M. Njihia Critical realism and its prospects for African development research and policy
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This paper outlines critical realism, a relatively new philosophy of science, in an attempt to increase awareness of it amongst African researchers. The paper argues that this school of thought has important implications for framing social science research and development policy in developing countries. Critical realism is a radical critique of the Western philosophy, especially positivism that is closely associated with rational choice theory and Western modernity. It has four discernible progressive phases, each of which is a complete philosophical system. A discussion of its relevance to African scholars follows, centered on the fact that critical realism gives primacy to the human values of freedom and emancipation rather than to material concerns which are central to Western modernity. Recent publications have challenged contemporary African philosophy to be more responsive to popular aspirations for socio-economic development, instead of dwelling excessively on long running debates amongst different schools of philosophy. Critical realism is presented as worthy of further investigation by scholars in Africa that seek new ways forward, and relevance in a rapidly changing world. Development research and policy is used to illustrate its potential. It is found that a critical realist approach may lead to meeting of some important precedents necessary for any meaningful development to occur in Africa.
32. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Pascah Mungwini ‘Philosophy and Tradition in Africa’: Critical Reflections on the Power and Vestiges of Colonial Nomenclature
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The colonial narrative in Africa is replete with instances and processes of naming that were used not only to (re)construct social realities and (re)produce power and privilege, but also to inscribe, reify or denigrate African cultures. This work examines how the discourse of naming, specifically terms selected, stipulatively defined and applied by Western colonialists and early Western anthropologists, continue to sustain ambivalent attitudes towards the African heritage. It analyses the way in which the popular term and prefix ‘traditional’ is used in Africa, and argues that it can be pejorative, as it is associated with the well-establishedcolonial custom of thinking of Africa as a continent stuck in the past. Thus the term predisposes scholars to making certain assumptions that perpetuate cultural stereotypes about African reality and experiences. The need for an analysis of the mentality that popularised its usage therefore remains pertinent. The work also attempts to address the challenge of how postcolonial Africa can engage with its past, and talk about it in terms that do not perpetuate colonial derogation, stereotypes, assumptions, attitudes and misrepresentations of indigenous African thought and culture.
33. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Fasiku Gbenga, Oyelakin Richard Taye Phenomenal Characters of Mental States and Emerging Issues in African Philosophy of Mind
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There is a prevalent assumption that the phenomenal character of a mental experience is an ontological property existing as part of the fabric of the world. This implies that the problem of explaining the phenomenal property of a mental experience is a metaphysical one. Contrary to this assumption, the present paper argues that phenomenal properties of mental experiences are the results of our epistemological perspectives of the world. Consequently, the paper contends that in developing issues for African Philosophy of Mind, care must, ab initio, be taken to avoid the metaphysical pitfalls of considering phenomenal characters orproperties of mental states to be part of the fabric of the world.
34. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Francis E.A. Owakah, Daniel Robert Aswani The Ethics of Deontology in Corporate Communication
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This paper seeks to provide guidelines on how to respond to the ethical challenges entailed in corporate communication. It argues for the need for an ethical grounding for the practitioner of corporate communication, before critically examining the two broad ethical theories - deontology and teleology - and their place in ethical judgment. The authors underscore the importance of deontological ethics in the practice of corporate communication.
35. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Karori Mbũgua The Problem of Hell Revisited: Towards a Gentler Theology of Hell
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The doctrines of hell and the existence of God seem to pose a formidable paradox for both Christianity and Islam. The paradox can be stated as follows: Given that God is perfect in every sense, how can he allow any of his creatures to suffer eternal perdition? In this paper, I undertake a critical examination of the arguments for and against the doctrine of hell and conclude that on balance, arguments against the existence of hell heavily outweigh those for its existence. This calls for a radical revision of the traditional doctrine of hell. I contend that what is needed is a gentler and more sinner-friendly theology of hell that recognizes God’s mercy and infinite patience. Nevertheless, belief in hell can serve the social function of deterring potential sinners from sinning.
36. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Jacinta Mwende Maweu Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Modern Western Ecological Knowledge: Complementary, not Contradictory
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Indigenous knowledge is often dismissed as ‘traditional and outdated’, and hence irrelevant to modern ecological assessment. This theoretical paper critically examines the arguments advanced to elevate modern western ecological knowledge over indigenous ecological knowledge, as well as the sources and uses of indigenous ecological knowledge. The central argument of the paper is that although the two systems are conceptually different, it would be fallacious to regard one as superior to the other merely because they are premised on different worldviews.
37. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Olumuyiwa Okuseinde, Oladipo O. Olubomehin Music Artistes and their Contribution to the Idea of Development in Africa, 1974-1987
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This paper is a historical analysis of the contributions of music artistes to the idea of development in Africa in the period between 1974 and 1987. Itseeks to show that concern for the development of the continent was not confined to the intellectual community. Music artistes were not merely interested in entertainment; they also paid attention to the real problems that confronted the society of their time, thereby sharing in the concern of political thinkers of all ages. The works of three artistes - Sonny Okosun, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Bob Marley - are selected for detailed examination, although references are made to other artistes. The study depended on primary and secondary source material. The paper is a contribution to knowledge in the field of African Political Thought.
38. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Adebayo A. Ogungbure The Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Some Ethical Reflections
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There are established ethical principles to protect human participants in biomedical research from undue exploitation by researchers. However, in the “Tuskegee Study” in the US, these principles were grossly violated. The task of this paper is to critically examine the ethical implications of that study on future practices in biomedical research, and to suggest ways of ensuring that such practices comply with appropriate ethical values.
39. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Innocent I. Asouzu Ibuanyidanda (Complementary Reflection), Communalism and Theory Formulation in African Philosophy
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This paper avers that most attempts at formulating viable theories in African philosophy are saddled with intrusions of ethnophilosophic and ethnocentric types: The author identifies this as the phenomenon of “unintended ethnocentric commitment”. He uses communalism, a socio-political theory in African philosophy, to illustrate his point. He further argues that overreliance on the method of synthetic deduction - as is widely practised in African philosophy - can impact adversely on the universal outreach of theories and limit our knowledge of the world. The paper contends that any theory that aspires to give us a clearer picture of the world should be in a position to contain the distortions arising from the promptings of sense experience. Likewise, such a theory should show clear evidence ofanalytic insight into the mechanisms and phenomena on the basis of which our knowledge of the world can be broadened and our judgement thereof improved. By recourse to the method and principles of ibuanyidanda (complementary reflection) philosophy, a systematic methodological approach to theory formulation in African philosophy, the author shows how theories in African philosophy can be articulated more resourcefully with a view to upholding their systematic and universal relevance.
40. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Rainer Ebert, Reginald M.J. Oduor The Concept of Human Dignity in German and Kenyan Constitutional Law
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This paper is a historical, legal and philosophical analysis of the concept of human dignity in German and Kenyan constitutional law. We base our analysis on decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, in particular its take on life imprisonment and its 2006 decision concerning the shooting of hijacked airplanes, and on a close reading of the Constitution of Kenya. We also present a dialogue between us in which we offer some critical remarks on the concept of human dignity in the two constitutions, each one of us from his own philosophical perspective.