The article deals with Mohandas K. Gandhi's theory of democracy and its related civic practices. It indicates the relation between Gandhi's idea of civic duty and his idea of democracy, and argues that few would dispute that Gandhi was one of the most original and transformative thinkers of democracy. The article maintains that among his many notable contributions, Gandhi is rightly credited with emphasizing on the ideas of citizenship duty, truth in politics, genuine self-rule, and ethically enlightened democracy. In addition to advocating self-sustaining villages and communal cooperation, Gandhi developed an idea of non-liberal democracy reducing individualism, economic greed, and laissez-faire by insisting on a duty oriented and spiritually empowered participative democracy. Nearly seven decades after his death, Gandhi stands as one of the most significant and relevant non-Western theorist of democracy.
It is a great pleasure, and an honour, to have been invited to give this lecture under the auspices of two organisations dear to my heart and so important to our community. I thank Rabbi Dr Mark Winer, Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, and Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, Principal of Leo Baeck College – Centre for Jewish Education; and I thank you all for attending.
In this article, I argue that individuals could be entitled to rights, outside those that are communally conferred, as part of the primary requirement of being ‘persons’ in the African communitarian set-up if the terms ‘person’ and ‘personhood’ are understood differently from the way they are currently deployed in the communitarian discourse. The distinction between these two terms is the basis of my thesis where clarity on their meanings could be helpful in establishing the possibility of ascribing rights outside those that are communally conferred. I argue that ontologically, a ‘person’ is prior to ‘personhood’ (understood in the normative sense) which is considered to find its fuller expression in a community and by virtue of this, I think that he or she is entitled to some rights outside those that are defined and conferred by the community. This is my point of departure in this article.
David Miller has objected to the cosmopolitan argument that it is arbitrary and hence unfair to treat individuals differently on account of things for which they are not responsible. Such a view seems to require, implausibly, that individuals be treated identically even where (unchosen) needs differ. The objection is, however, inapplicable where the focus of cosmopolitan concern is arbitrary disadvantage rather than arbitrary treatment. This 'unfair disadvantage argument' supports a form of global luck egalitarianism. Miller also objects that cosmopolitanism is unable to accommodate special obligations generated by national membership. Cosmopolitanism can, however, accommodate many special obligations to compatriots. Those which it cannot accommodate are only morally compelling if we assume what the objection claims to prove - that cosmopolitanism is mistaken. Cosmopolitanism construed as global luck egalitarianism is therefore able to withstand both of Miller's objections, and has significant independent appeal on account of the unfair disadvantage argument.
Global Civilisation at the End of the Twentieth Century – A Universal Ethic and Human Duties, or Relative Values across World Cultures?
Someone standing on the threshold of a new millennium has a better view than earlier generations of the long-term trends that characterise our century. In this connection, Germany currently offers a good illustration of the fact that many European countries are at present going through a third wave of pluralisation. After the first wave, which ruptured medieval church unity in the sixteenth century and which might be termed a denominational, internal Christian pluralism, a second wave began to build up during the eighteenth century; this involved the shattering of 'Christian' unity – which, despite it all, still existed- and the splitting of society into one part wedded to Christian values and another of secular-humanistic outlook.
Jonathan O. Chimakonam and Victor C. A. Nweke
We argue that Menkiti and Gyekye – the forerunners in Afro-communitarianism, to different extents both trivialise the notion of human rights. While Menkiti prioritises community and denies human rights, Gyekye who upholds human rights subsumes these to the community. We contend that both are however mistaken in their trivial conceptions of human rights. To clarify the confusion, we propose that the notion of rights in Afro-communitarianism can have two possible senses namely, rights as participatory and rights as entitlements and that the failure to recognise these senses was what led Menkiti to a fringed position and Gyekye to a difficult position. We then conclude that Afro-communitarianism, in both Menkiti and Gyekye harbours a certain notion of rights contrary to Menkiti’s assumption but it is not one that accommodates the idea of inalienability contrary to Gyekye’s suggestion.
Non-Western Racism and the Duties of Global Citizenship
Adam K. Webb
The rise of non-Western societies, especially in Asia, to greater global influence demands greater scrutiny of how they engage the rest of the world. To date, every society with high levels of immigration is in Europe or a product of the European empires. The erosion of ethnically and racially inflected understandings of citizenship has also gone much further in the modern West than in East Asia or the Gulf States. Notably, however, liberal political theorists who make the case for a cosmopolitan opening of borders remain silent on such non-Western patterns of racial exclusion. Non-Western societies often claim that, because they are 'not an immigrant country', they should not be held to the same standards of openness and non-discrimination. International law, a product of the postcolonial moment, also has a blind spot on these issues. This article challenges such double standards. It suggests that the implicit normative argument for greater Western openness – collective guilt over the colonial experience and resulting racial stratification – leads in unexpected directions, implicating Asian societies in ways that they do not yet recognise.
A Response to Masaka's Objection of Menkiti
Dennis Masaka argues that individuals have rights outside those conferred by the community. The argument is a critique to Ifeanyi Menkiti’s view of personhood. He argues that Menkiti uses the word person and personhood as synonymous. Masaka makes a distinction between the two, where person is an ontological concept, and personhood is a normative concept. For Masaka, individuals have rights by virtue of being persons and not personhood. My approach to the paper is therapeutic. I argue that Masaka misinterprets Menkiti’s views. I argue that Menkiti does not allocate rights in his idea of personhood and as something conferred by the community as proposed by Masaka. This implies that Masaka’s view is not radically different from Menkiti’s.
Who Is a Radical Communitarian?
characterises an African moral thought. Secondly, I demonstrate that Menkiti actually does not necessarily deny nor reject rights per se; instead, he is proposing an alternative political model that prioritises duties/obligations for the sake of the common good
'Luck' as a Relational Process among Hunting Peoples of the Siberian Forest in Pre-Soviet Times
Roberte N. Hamayon
This article is based on data from pre-Soviet Siberia, mainly, the West Buryat and Tungus Evenk groups. As a product that cannot be produced, game is an ideal example of something that requires 'luck'. Far from being passively received, luck requires an active behavior and implies controlled interactions with various types of agencies of the natural environment and within society. Luck is the outcome of a multirelational process that starts with multiple precautionary measures, continues with fostering, and ends with sharing practices. This action results, paradoxically, in challenging both equality and differentiation, social redistribution and individual responsibility. Throughout this process, luck is associated with meat and vital force (as a substance) and with love, play, and wealth (as a value).