© 2019

An African Philosophy of Personhood, Morality, and Politics


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Motsamai Molefe
    Pages 1-16
  3. Motsamai Molefe
    Pages 17-35
  4. Motsamai Molefe
    Pages 37-69
  5. Motsamai Molefe
    Pages 71-92
  6. Motsamai Molefe
    Pages 117-143
  7. Motsamai Molefe
    Pages 145-172
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 173-179

About this book


This book explores the salient ethical idea of personhood in African philosophy. It is a philosophical exposition that pursues the ethical and political consequences of the normative idea of personhood as a robust or even foundational ethical category. Personhood refers to the moral achievements of the moral agent usually captured in terms of a virtuous character, which have consequences for both morality and politics. The aim is not to argue for the plausibility of the ethical and political consequences of the idea of personhood. Rather, the book showcases some of the moral-political content and consequences of the account it presents.


Menkiti Gyekye MacNaughton Tshivhase Wiredu Kylimcka

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

About the authors

Motsamai Molefe lectures at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Bibliographic information


“Much of the influential work in African moral and political philosophy, e.g., by Gyekye and Wiredu, has made action foundational, prescribed impartial treatment, deemed rights to be central, and argued against supererogation. In contrast, Motsamai Molefe makes virtue foundational, prescribes partiality, deems duties to be central, and argues for supererogation. Molefe’s novel positions, clearly and plausibly advanced, are welcome additions to the field.” (Thaddeus Metz, Distinguished Professor, University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

“Motsamai Molefe’s contribution to the debate on personhood is timely and refreshing. His choice to explore the normative basis of the concept is well-informed as he shows the importance of understanding the implications of this position on a number of topics that have a bearing on both ontology and political philosophy. He succeeds in outlining previously unexplored terrain in a way that demonstrates mastery of the subject and will certainly steer the debate on personhood towards a new and relevant direction.” (Bernard Matolino, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa)