SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.13 número1Power and constraints in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996Courts and the enforcement of socio-economic rights in Malawi: Jurisprudential trends, challenges and opportunities índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados



Links relacionados

  • En proceso de indezaciónCitado por Google
  • En proceso de indezaciónSimilares en Google


African Human Rights Law Journal

versión On-line ISSN 1996-2096
versión impresa ISSN 1609-073X


OYOWE, Anthony O. Strange bedfellows: Rethinking ubuntu and human rights in South Africa. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2013, vol.13, n.1, pp.01-22. ISSN 1996-2096.

Can an African ubuntu moral theory ground individual freedom and human rights? Although variants of ubuntu moral theory answer in the negative, asserting that the duties individuals owe the collective are prior to individual rights (since African thought places more emphasis on the collective), Metz's recent articulation in this Journal of an African ubuntu moral theory promises to ground the liberal ideal of individual liberty. I pursue three distinct lines of argument in establishing the claim that Metz's project fails to convince - that individual freedom and rights cannot be successfully grounded in a moral theory that already regards some extrinsic value (that is, communal harmony) as the most fundamental moral value. First, I suggest that Metz's attempt to ground human rights in his ubuntu moral theory raises the problem of where the fundamental value lies in his theory. That is, in seeking to integrate two potentially-conflicting and non-instrumental values in his theory, Metz substantially modifies his original ubuntu ethical principle in such a way that the communitarian/ubuntu status of the theory is undermined. Second, I argue that, even if Metz's theory were sufficiently communitarian/ubuntu-like, it could not possibly ground individual freedom as a non-instrumental value. Third, I argue that Metz employs a tendentious reading of the concept of human rights; in particular, that he erroneously construes rights as duties. Since this last argument rests on a subtle distinction between individual rights and duties, I try to suggest how the distinction can be made in spite of the fact that these concepts are strongly related. Although I do not directly address Metz's treatment of specific human rights issues in South Africa, throughout I contend that these theoretical lapses cast enormous doubts on his overall project.

        · texto en Inglés     · Inglés ( pdf )


Creative Commons License Todo el contenido de esta revista, excepto dónde está identificado, está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons