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An appraisal of “African perspectives of moral status: A framework for evaluating global bioethical issues”

Motsamai Molefe
Elphus Maude


This paper evaluates Caesar Alimsinya Atuire’s essay “African Perspectives of Moral Status: A Framework for Evaluating Global Bioethical  Issues”. Atuire’s essay aims to contribute to global ethical discourse by articulating a systematic account of an African ethical perspective,  specifically focusing on the themes of personhood, moral status and the legal question of abortion. We make three  objections against Atuire’s essay. Firstly, we argue that a plausible approach to African personhood must consider both its individualistic  and relational features, rather than merely emphasize the relational component. The second objection focuses on the theory of moral status, and it has two parts: (a) we insist that a correct understanding of the concept of moral status must construe it as a moral patiency rather than a moral agency term. We believe that Atuire’s view errs in regarding it as the latter. (b) we argue that contrary to Atuire’s assertions, Thaddeus Metz’s friendliness theory of moral status does a better job than Atuire’s object moral status (OMS) and subject  moral status (SMS) views of moral status. The final objection is that maybe before we reflect on the legal status of abortion, as ethicists,  we should begin by considering the ethical status of abortion in light of African axiological resources. In the final analysis, the paper  appreciates Atuire’s contribution to African ethical theory, but it argues that much work still needs to be done before it can be suitable to  provide a global framework for evaluating global bioethical issues.  

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eISSN: 2788-7928