Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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An African theory of moral conflict resolution: a Kwesi Wiredu’s paradigmatic approach

Godwin Azenabor


Kwesi Wiredu, a renowned author and a specialist in African philosophy, an author who hails from Ghana, a distinguished philosopher and an intellectual giant in the field of African philosophy, speaks of his moral theory of “consensus” as a resolution to all moral conflicts. This paper interrogates his theory of “ethical consensus” as a method of moral conflict resolution or moral conflict reconciliation within an African society. It is an exercise in critical and comparative philosophy. Conflict is inevitable, based on differences in values, attitudes and belief systems. conflict is one of the dialectics of diversity. The Nigerian society, for example, is bedevilled with moral crises and conflicts, characterised by growing criminalities, widespread violation of human rights, social and political mistrust, value conflict and corruption. Wiredu, proposes his theory of ethical consensus as a way out. He points to intellectual or mental de-colonisation as the basis for his ethical theory. He attempts a formulation of an indigenous ethical theory that will be adequate to resolve or tackle the moral crises/conflicts of African societies, which originated because Africans took over western value system hook, line and sinker without critical reflection and without situating these values within an African socio-cultural paradigm. In fact, the propelling force of Wiredu’s ethical theory is the disturbing observation that the Africans today live in a cultural flux, characterised by a confused interplay between an indigenous cultural heritage and a foreign cultural legacy of a colonial origin. Implicated at the deepest reaches of this cultural amalgam is the superimposition of western conception of the good on African thought and conduct. Hence, his clarion call for indigenous and authentic African moral and ethical values. Against the background that ethical theories, even though are of universal character, inter-subjective and global cannot be divorced from the culture of the people, Wiredu reflected and explored the ethical concepts of his own people – the Akan of Ghana. We apply Wiredu’s ethical theory of conflict resolution to modernity and conclude that human interest and welfare, not just human reason(as Immanuel Kant wants us to believe), is the basis of an African moral/ethical conflict resolution. Hence, we posit a humanistic theory of conflict resolution which complements Wiredu’s ethical consensus theory of conflict resolution.

Keywords: Ethical Consensus, Humanism, Morality and Conflict Resolution

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