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A Humanist Ethic of Ubuntu: Understanding Moral Obligation and Community

Issue: Vol 21 No. 2 (2013)

Journal: Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism

Subject Areas: Philosophy

DOI: 10.1558/eph.v21i2.47


The secular conception of ubuntu, as proffered by Thaddeus Metz, supplies a foundation for a humanist argument that justifies obligation to one’s community, even apart from a South African context, when combined with Kwasi Wiredu’s conception of personhood. Such an account provides an argument for accepting the concept of ubuntu as humanistic and not necessarily based in communalism or dependent upon supernaturalism. By re-evaluating some core concepts of community as they are presented in Plato’s Republic, I argue that this account of ubuntu fits as the basis from which to understand obligation to community from a secular humanist perspective.

Author: Mark Tschaepe

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