Moral Philosophy and Development: The Human Condition in Africa

Moral Philosophy and Development: The Human Condition in Africa

Moral Philosophy and Development: The Human Condition in Africa

Moral Philosophy and Development: The Human Condition in Africa

Synopsis

Although development issues generally have been considered in a framework of economic theory and politics, in this volume Tedros Kiros looks to European ideas of moral philosophy to explain the underdevelopment of Africa and the persistent African food crisis. He draws upon the works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx and the concepts of hegemony and counter-hegemony.

Kiros points out that Africans and Europeans held opposing worldviews upon their initial contact and agrees with those who explain the present condition in Africa partly as the result of European colonialism. In his concluding chapter he develops principles of moral philosophy to guide Africans and others in the future economic development of the African continent.

Excerpt

This book is a product of several years' work, work that began in 1982 on the burning theme of the African food "crisis." Research and thinking on the theme of the African food crisis in due course impelled me to delve deeper into the genesis and archeology of the elusive concept of "development," which culminated in writing a piece in 1984 on the subject of the causes (historical/moral) of Africa's sustained history of material underdevelopment. The fruits of that research encouraged me to seek a theoretical attempt at the possible resolution of the food crisis in particular and the general state of material backwardness that characterizes the fifty-five or so modern African states. The painful awareness of the material aspect of the human condition in Africa led me to return to the study of classical political economy and the types of moral imperatives upon which this political economy was grounded. From the study of classical political economy, I attempted to draw a judicious interpretation of the type of development models that were specifically applied to deal with the human condition in Africa, models that are amply demonstrated by the historical legacies of slavery and colonialism, and the development packages of the 1960s.

A judicious reading of classical political economy, I argue, uncovers tensions between certain implicit moral concerns and explicit economic imperatives (profit motive, cost-benefit, utility, and efficiency, for example). I am of the opinion that the study of classical political economy, and the tensions (as opposed to the existence of a solid doctrine) between the moral and economic dimensions that I seek to unfold is a novel way of looking at (a) why Africa failed to develop a self-sustaining mode of production in its historical confrontations with slavery and colonialism, and (b) how Africa now can attempt to materially develop itself as an integral part of an aggressive world economy, and effectively energize dormant resources in contemporary Africa, particularly in . . .

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