A Critique of Thaddeus Metz's Modal Relational Account of Moral Status

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  • 1 University of New South Wales, Australia olusegun.s.samuel@student.unsw.edu.au
  • 2 University of Johannesburg, South Africa ademolaf@uj.ac.za
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Abstract

This article is a critique of Thaddeus Metz's modal relational approach to moral status in African ethics (AE). According to moral relationalism (MR), a being has moral status if it exhibits the capacity for communal relationship as either a subject or an object. While Metz defends a prima facie plausibility of MR as an African account of moral status, this article provides a fresh perspective to the debate on moral status in environmental and ethical discourse. It raises two objections against MR: (1) the capability criterion inherent in MR is not only exogenous to African thought but also undermines the viability of MR; and (2) MR cannot account for the standing of species populations. Both objections have severe implications for biodiversity conservation efforts in Africa and beyond.

Contributor Notes

Olusegun Steven Samuel is currently at the final stage of his Doctorate in the Department of Philosophy, the University of New South Wales, Australia. He is a member of the Canadian Society for the Study of Practical Ethics (CSSPE) and Australasian Association of Philosophy (AAP). He is currently researching ethical perspectives on the environment. His research interests are in the areas of environmental philosophy, ethical theory, and justice towards the environment. E-mail: olusegun.s.samuel@student.unsw.edu.au.

Ademola Kazeem Fayemi is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos, Nigeria. His current research is focused on developing a plausible African ethical framework that deals with the moral distress in sexual relationships with robots in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). E-mail: ademolaf@uj.ac.za

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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