A Defence of Moderate Communitarianism: A Place of Rights in African Moral-Political Thought

Motsamai Molefe


This article attempts to defend Kwame Gyekye’s moderate communitarianism (MC) from the trenchant criticism that it is as defective as radical communitarianism (RC) since they both fail to take rights seriously. As part of my response, I raise two critical questions. Firstly, I question the supposition in the literature that there is such a thing as radical communitarianism. I point out that talk of radical communitarianism is tantamount to attacking a “straw-man.” Secondly, I question the efficacy of the criticism that MC does not take rights seriously, given that there is no account of what it means to take rights seriously in the African tradition. This criticism, insofar as it does not specify a criterion of what it means to take rights seriously, remains defective. The central contribution of this article is to call our attention to the fact that the intellectual culture of rights will surely be affected by Afro-communitarianism, which emphasises our duties to all. 


moderate communitarianism; radical communitarianism; human nature; personhood; rights

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