A personhood-based theory and the death penalty: An appraisal of AE Chimakonam’s theory of right action
Until recently, there have only been what are considered to be moral beliefs/worldviews/cultural practices as moral justification for actions in African ethics. However, recent intellectual activities brought about the development of ethical theories that serve as frameworks for justifying actions as good/right or bad/wrong from an African perspective. Guided by the principles that are derivable from African values, norms and thought, the theories provide systematic, coherent and universal frameworks of moral justification in a way that beliefs or worldviews do not. In this paper, I look into one of the theories. Propounded by Amara Esther Chimakonam, the theory draws from the African normative idea of personhood that Ifeanyi Menkiti proposes. My aim is to show its weaknesses and strengths. I begin with the weaknesses by arguing that, among others, the theory is unsuccessful in adequately accommodating individual excellences, such as interests and rights that it promises to accommodate. I then move on to show its strength by demonstrating that it provides a plausible moral argument against the death penalty from an African perspective.
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