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Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 6, Issue 2, 2017

Babalola Joseph Balogun
Pages 1-19

Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights: The Yoruba Example

Some foundations have been provided for the social validity of human rights in Western philosophical literature. Some African scholars have also sought to ground the notion of human rights within the traditional African cultural beliefs and practices. There is, however, a dearth in literature on the Yoruba notion of human rights. Perhaps this may be due to scholars’ attitude that any talk about human rights is incompatible with the communalistic social structure of the Yoruba. The present paper challenges this prevalent attitude by providing some philosophical foundations for human rights within the limits permitted by the Yoruba world-view. The paper attempts a theoretical reconciliation between the Yoruba claim to communitarianism and the possibility of human rights. The paper concludes that, in spite of the seemingly antinomic relation they bear to each other, the idea of human rights is neither practically meaningless/unintelligible in a communitarian society, nor is it conceptually incompatible with the communitarian ideology.