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Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions

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Can individual autonomy and rights be defended in Afro-communitarianism?

Jonathan O. Chimakonam

Abstract


I argue that individual autonomy and rights can be defended but only in African or qualified version of communitarianism. I posit that there are two possible versions of communitarianism: the qualified or the African and the unqualified or the version discussed mostly by Western scholars. I show that Ifeanyi Menkiti, Kwame Gyekye, Michael Eze and Bernard Matolino have formulated communitarian theories of right in African philosophy. I explain that while Menkiti and Gyekye erroneously employed the unqualified version in their proposals, Eze and Matolino
who employed the qualified version failed to ground it in a non-Western or African logic. I argue that while the Western or Aristotelian logic grounds the unqualified version making it difficult to defend autonomy and rights within it, an African logic can be used to ground a qualified version of communitarianism in order to bring out an important African cultural value such as complementarity which affirms the identity of the individual first, so as to justify other communal values such as solidarity and common good, etc. I therefore contend that the qualified version is
the correct specimen for analysing the individual-community relationship in African philosophy in which autonomy and rights can be defended.

Keywords: individual autonomy, rights, African philosophy, Afro-communitarianism, Menkiti, Gyekye, Eze, Matolino




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