Defining ubuntu for business ethics – a deontological approach

  • Douglas FP Taylor


The term ‘ubuntu’ defines how people and communities should interact, based on the aphorism that ‘a person is a person through other people’. Adopting a deontological perspective the paper reviews the work of many writers on ubuntu, and examines three possible interpretations of the ubuntu principle before deriving the principle that: ‘An action is right insofar as it promotes cohesion and reciprocal value amongst people. An action is wrong insofar as it damages relationships and devalues any individual or group.’ The various elements of this principle are discussed and some objections considered. A brief case study considers how the principle could be applied.

South African Journal of Philosophy 2014, 33(3): 331–345

Author Biography

Douglas FP Taylor
Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0258-0136