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Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 7, Issue 3, 2018

Dedicated to Late Prof. Sophie Oluwole

Motsamai Molefe
Pages 19-37

African Metaphysics and Religious Ethics

Scholars of African moral thought reject the possibility of an African religious ethics by invoking at least three major reasons. The first objection to ‘ethical supernaturalism’1 argues that it is part of those aspects of African culture that are ‘anachronistic’ insofar as they are superstitious rather than rational; as such, they should be jettisoned. The second objection points out that ethical supernaturalism is incompatible with the utilitarian approach to religion that typically characterises some African peoples’ orientation to it.2 The last objection argues that religious ethics by their very nature require the feature (of revelation), which is generally lacking in African religious experiences. The facet of revelation is crucial for a religious ethics since it solves the epistemological problem of knowing the will of God or the content of morality. In this article, I construct a vitality-based African religious moral theory; and, I argue that it can successfully meet these objections.

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