Personhood and Abortion in African Philosophy

  • Motsamai MolefeEmail author


In this chapter, Molefe reflects on the bioethical question of abortion in light of the African personhood-based view of dignity. The central question is whether the idea of personhood would permit or forbid abortion. He ultimately defends the view that forbids abortion. To secure this conclusion, he structures the chapter as follows. He begins with questions of methodology. He first proposes what he takes to be a suitable method to engage on the question of abortion. He rejects approaches employed by some of the leading scholars in African philosophy like Benezet Bujo, Mabogo Ramose and Godfrey Tangwa since they are based on controversial metaphysical views. Secondly, he considers Kai Horsthemke’s essay—‘African Communalism, Persons, and Animals’—that argues that the idea of personhood takes the young, women, homosexuals and animals not to have moral status. In the third section, it offers arguments that neutralise Horsthemke’s arguments by proposing a more plausible interpretation of Menkiti’s moral philosophy that accommodates the young in the moral community, among others. Finally, Molefe considers two possible objections against his view.


Abortion Animals Ifeanyi Menkiti Moral status Potential Rape The young 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Fort HareEast LondonSouth Africa

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