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81. 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.
82. 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.
83. 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.
84. 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.
85. 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.
86. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Reginald M.J. Oduor Editor’s Note
87. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ani Critique of Nkrumah’s Philosophical Materialism
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Kwame Nkrumah invokes the doctrine of emergentism in the hope of reconciling theism - a tenacious part of the African worldview - with materialism. However, in this article I seek to show that this reconciliation is not only ultimately unsuccessful, but is actually impossible. Towards this end, I identify weaknesses in what I call the six argumentative pillars of Nkrumah’s theory of emergentism (which he calls “philosophical materialism”), namely, his arguments regarding the origin of the cosmic material, the primary reality of matter, idealism, categorial convertibility, dialectic change, and the self-motion of matter. The article should provide not only alternative perspectives to Nkrumah’s metaphysics, but also highlight some broader metaphysical implications for both strong and weak emergentism.
88. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Alade Adetayo Oludare Kinship Structures and Social Justice in Sub-Saharan Africa
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A major obstacle to the development of sustainable democratic systems of government in contemporary sub-Saharan African states is the difficulty in articulating an adequate conception of social justice to serve as a guiding principle in these polities. This difficulty is a consequence of the ethnically heterogeneous character of most of these states. This article argues that while in traditional sub-Saharan African communities social justice is largely based on kinship relations, that traditional framework is too narrow to serve as the basis for the articulation of this important notion in these ethnically pluralistic polities. Consequently, even though kinship relations ought to be retained in the articulation of social justice in these states, the conception of kinship needs to be broadened to transcend simple familial or ancestral relations.
89. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Kibaba Makokha, Winfred Kyalo Ethical Objections to Commercial Farming and Consumption of Genetically Modified Foods in Kenya
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Food insecurity remains one of the most pressing problems of Third World countries. The causes of this predicament are varied, ranging from drought, inadequate farming methods, poverty, among others. The responses to famine, whenever it strikes in many of these countries, have also been varied, with the most popular one being appeals for food aid from wealthy individuals, corporate bodies and the international community. However, these initiatives have not been sustainable. The need for a permanent solution has attracted varied opinions. On the one hand, some stakeholders take the view that the solution lies in genetically modified foods. On the other, some of the stakeholders are either opposed to such foods, or are cautious about them, citing potential and/or real risks associated with them. This article is premised on the view that technological innovations often raise ethical concerns and even dilemmas that ought to be surmounted in order to enhance public acceptability. In this regard, the article reflects on the ethical objections against GM technology in general, and, in particular, the process leading to the enactment of the biosafety law in Kenya.
90. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Joseph Situma, Fred Atoh, Juma Ndohvu Mapping out the Identity of African Arts and Aesthetics
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This article utilizes the hermeneutic theory of Paul Ricoeur and its concepts of text, historicity, distance, narrative and metaphor to map out the salient features of African arts and aesthetics. It also uses the Ricoeurian concept of metaphor to demarcate the boundary between art and popular art. The focus of this mapping out is literature, visual arts, music and art criticism. The identity of African literature bears imprints of various indigenous and foreign languages, and pertinent to Ricoeur, the deployment of metaphor. Thematic concerns are patently African by virtue of the historicity of the discourses that feature in the novels, poems and plays. On the other hand, art criticism in contemporary Africa manifests a lack of responsibility, and its practitioners would enhance their capacity by drawing from Ricoeur’s philosophy of interpretive responsibility. Although discourse is significantly valuable in mapping out identity in the African novel, its applicability to the identity of painting, poetry and music is slightly constrained. Furthermore, Ricoeur’s concept of textual autonomy is of least value in dealing with the identity features of symbolic painting and symbolic arts.
91. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Odoch Pido Jaber: Reflections on a Luo Aesthetic Expression
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As a common expression, the Luo word jaber seems to be ordinary or even casual, yet it is a capsule of profound ideas within the context of Luo aesthetics. Jaber literally means “a person of beauty”: it is often used to describe females who have exceptional physical qualities that make them outstandingly attractive and deeply pleasurable to look at. The article advances the view that the term jaber offers us a key to understanding the aesthetics of the Luo of Kenya and of Western Nilotic-speakers in general.The author drew from personal experience, informal interviews, unpublished songs and existing literature as a basis for description and analysis of jaber. The picture that emerged suggested that visual beauty is only one layer of the meaning of jaber. Exploration of other layers and meanings in a broad context revealed that the expression points to aesthetic ideals, and can therefore be regarded as artistic. Dholuo speakers use the term to express appreciation of what they see, hear and feel; but it is also an intellectual tool used to offer a critique of concrete and non-concrete objects. The article is a contribution to the discourse on East African aesthetics.
92. 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.
93. Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya: Volume > 8 > Issue: 1
Oriare Nyarwath Editor’s Note
94. 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.
95. 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.
96. 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.
97. 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.