South African Journal of Philosophy

Articles

Vol. 32, No. 1, 2013

Am I My Brother's Keeper? on Personal Identity and Responsibility
AbstractThe psychological continuity theory of personal identity has recently been accused of not meeting what is claimed to be a fundamental requirement on theories of identity - to explain personal moral responsibility. Although they often have much...
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Restorative Justice and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Process1
AbstractIt has frequently been argued that the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was committed to restorative justice (RJ), and that RJ has deep historical roots in African indigenous cultures by virtue of its congruence both with...
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Is the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act Guilty of Disability Discrimination?
AbstractSouth Africa's Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996 implicitly expresses the attitude that the prenatal detection of foetal abnormality justifies selective abortion, even at a stage when abortion is in general morally prohibited. It...
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The Injustice of Discrimination1
Abstract:Discrimination might be considered unjust on account of the comparative disadvantage it imposes, the absolute advantage it imposes, the disrespect it shows, or the prejudice it shows. This article argues that each of these accounts overlooks...
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Defining Philosophical Counselling: An Overview
AbstractThe practice of 'Philosophical Counselling' (henceforth 'PC') is growing. But what exactly is PC? The variety of attempts to define PC can be summarised in terms of three overlapping sets of opposites: practical versus theoretical definitions;...
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Mental States, Processes, and Conscious Intent in Libet's Experiments1
Abstract:The meaning and significance of Benjamin Libet's studies on the timing of conscious will have been widely discussed, especially by those wishing to draw sceptical conclusions about conscious agency and free will. However, certain important correctives...
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Understanding the Linguistic Turn and the Quest for Meaning: Historical Perspectives and Systematic Considerations
AbstractAlthough the linguistic turn is usually described in historical terms this article aims at combing the significant historical transitions with systematic philosophical considerations. Against the background of earlier rationalistic and empiricist...
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Political Obligation, Dirty Hands and Torture; A Moral Evaluation
AbstractThe example of a political leader who has to decide whether he would allow the torture of a suspect in order to get information about a ticking bomb has become notorious in ethical discussions concerning the tension between moral principles and...
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Vol. 31, No. 4, 2012

How Does Anybody Live in This Strange Place? A Reply to Samantha Vice1
AbstractSamantha Vice has argued that 'white' South Africans are so tainted by the history of racial oppression in their country that they are incapable of attaining a great degree of moral virtue. She recommends that they should live in humility and...
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Archive Fever: 'Order Is No Longer Assured'
AbstractThis article uses a close reading of Jacques Derrida's short work Archive fever: A Freudian impression (1996), in order to show the structural impossibility for law and the wider legal system to protect itself from the destabilising effects of...
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On Hannah Arendt: The Worldly In-Between of Human Beings and Its Ethical Consequences1
AbstractIn this paper, I show how a concept of ethics can be derived from Hannah Arendt's theory of action in The Human Condition, which contains from her call for action. When she looks at the 'political actor', as well as at the concept of 'political...
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Space Contestations and the Teaching of African Philosophy in African Universities
AbstractThe central issue addressed in this paper is the demand for improvements in the space granted to African philosophy in African universities. I offer and elaborate on the most basic reasons for this demand, which includes amongst others: 1) the...
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From Hostility to Hope: Beauvoir's Joyful Turn to Hegel in the Ethics of Ambiguity
AbstractKojève's lectures on Phenomenology of Spirit generated two ideas - otherness is something threatening that must be overcome and one's relationships with others are inexorably violent - that fundamentally shaped the way many exponents of early...
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Nietzsche's Questioning
AbstractWhen Nietzsche is called a radical philosopher, it is (among other reasons) because he claims to call into question what other thinkers take for granted. In the article I concentrate on the way in which Nietzsche asks his questions, and how his...
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The Invisibility of Richness: A Critique of Vice's 'Strange Place'1
AbstractThis article builds on Samantha Vice's argument on the problem of whiteness in contemporary South Africa. I will explore the thesis of invisibility regarding whiteness and argue for its relevance to the rich per se. This thesis demonstrates how...
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How Can Human Beings Transgress Their Biologically Based Views?1
AbstractEmpirical evidence from developmental psychology and anthropology points out that the human mind is predisposed to conceptualize the world in particular, species-specific ways. These cognitive predispositions lead to universal human commonsense...
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Vol. 31, No. 3, 2012

Sexual Specificity, Rape Law Reform and the Feminist Quest for Justice1
AbstractRecent rape law reform is most saliently characterised by a turn to gender neutrality in its definition of the crime of rape. The few possible advantages of a gender neutral approach to rape are offset by a series of disadvantages regarding gender...
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What Is Ubuntu! Different Interpretations among South Africans of African Descent1
AbstractIn this article, I describe and systematize the different answers to the question 'What is ubuntu?' that I have been able to identify among South Africans of African descent (SAADs). I show that it is possible to distinguish between two clusters...
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The Ideal of African Scholarship and Its Implications for Introductory Philosophy: The Example of Placide Tempels
AbstractThinking of an academic discipline in terms of a 'social practice' (MacIntyre) helps in formulating what the ideal captured in the slogan 'African scholarship' can contribute to the discipline. For every practice is threatened by the attractiveness...
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Distributive Justice in the State of Nature: An Egalitarian View1
AbstractThis paper proposes a novel egalitarian answer to the question: what initial distribution of the world's resources could possibly count as just? Like many writers in the natural rights tradition, I take for granted that distributive justice consists...
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Distributive Luck1
AbstactThis article explores the Rawlsian goal of ensuring that distributions are not influenced by the morally arbitrary. It does so by bringing discussions of distributive justice into contact with the debate over moral luck initiated by Williams and...
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Creating Mutual Identification and Solidarity in Highly Diversified Societies. the Importance of Identification by Shared Participation
AbstractLike the liberal nationalists, we insist that a sense of belonging together is necessary for the practice of an egalitarian democracy. Therefore, we can take a shared national identity as one of the building blocks of the welfare state. However,...
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Knowledge and True Belief in Early Analytic Philosophy1
AbstractI argue that the sufficiency of true belief for knowledge was accepted by some principal figures in the early history of analytic philosophy, including Russell, Schlick, McTaggart, and Moore, among others.1. IntroductionI will argue that the...
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Towards Defending a Semantic Theory of Expression in Art: Revisiting Goodman
Abstract:Nelson Goodman's attempt to analyse the expressiveness of artworks in semantic terms has been widely criticised. In this paper I try to show how the use of an adapted version of his concept of exemplification, as proposed by Mark Textor, can...
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Philosophy: Discipline of the Disciplines
Daniel Strauss, Philosophy: Discipline of the DisciplinesHerman Dooyeweerd began his mature work of philosophy, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (NC), with a "transcendental" critique of theory (1997 I, 3-113). Most of the remainder of the first...
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Vol. 31, No. 2, 2012

Beyond Reasonable Doubt - a Paradox of Ideological Immunity1
AbstractIdeology criticism, like scepticism, calls into question the objective or justified status of beliefs. However, where scepticism only refutes, and never puts forward, a substantive claim about anything, the ideology critic must maintain some...
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On the Meaning of Being Real: Fantasy and 'The Real' in Personal Identity-Formation1
AbstractWith the help of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, this article addresses certain perplexities concerning personal identity that emerge from different kinds of interpersonal encounters. Lacan's notion of the 'fundamental fantasy' incorporates the...
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A Narrative Model of Recovery1
AbstractIn this paper I defend the suggestion that narratively understanding her experience of rape can help a survivor in her recovery from the harm that she has suffered. Susan Brison defends a similar suggestion, but, I argue, does not get all of...
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'People Are Strange When You're a Stranger'1: Shame, the Self and Some Pathologies of Social Imagination
AbstractIn this paper I respond to Samantha Vice's prescriptions for living morally as a white person in South Africa today. I allow that her 'How do I live in this strange place?' (2010) is convincing when read - probably against intent - as a descriptive...
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The Universal Declaration's Problematic Rights Justification
AbstractIn this paper I aim to critically analyse the underlying moral justification of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The aim of the critique is to highlight some of the problematic areas that underpin...
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Second-Personal Reasons: Why We Need Something like Them, but Why There Are Actually No Such Things1
AbstractStephen Darwall, in his book The Second-Person Standpoint (2006), has argued for an account of morality grounded in what he calls second-personal reasons. My first aim in this paper is to demonstrate the value of an account like Darwall's; as...
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'Surveillance and Cultural Panopticism': Situating Foucault in African Modernities
AbstractIn philosophical terms, the African encounter with Western modernity defines the context within which much of what unfolds in postcolonial Africa can be understood, including even its ethical and social problems. This work utilizes Foucault's...
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Is Theism a Simple, and Hence Probable, Explanation for the Universe?
AbstractRichard Swinburne, in his The Existence of God (2004), presents a cosmological argument in defence of theism (Swinburne 1991: 119, 135). God, Swinburne argues, is more likely to bring about an ordered universe than other states (ibid.: 144, 299)....
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Freedom, Indeterminism and Imagination1
AbstractA suspicion about libertarian free will is that freedom is undermined, rather than supported, by the positing of indeterminism within processes of volition. In response, this paper presents a way in which moments of indeterminism can enhance...
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The Death of Philosophy: A Response to Stephen Hawking
AbstractIn his 2010 work, The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking, argues that '... philosophy is dead' (2010: 5). While not a Philosopher, Hawking provides strong argument for his thesis, principally that philosophers have not taken science sufficiently seriously...
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Democracy and Equity: The Idea of the Just State Rechtsstaat) before and after 1994
Abstract:The recent publication of a special number of the SAJP dedicated to a discussion of Samantha Vice's thoughts on being a white South African prompted this reflection on justice, equity and the modern idea of the state - against the background...
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How to Do Philosophy of Religion: Towards a Possible Speaking about the Impossible
AbstractIt is postulated from different philosophical traditions, and explicitly in recent literature, that there is no further need for doing philosophy of religion - it has become an impossible task. I argue, however, that there remains a philosophical...
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Liberty and Equality. A Critical Response to the Debate between James P. Sterba and Jan Narveson
AbstractThis article examines the libertarian arguments of Jan Narveson and James P. Sterba regarding the compatibility of liberty and equality. It then posits that their arguments fail in solving tensions between liberty and equality, because all fundamental...
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The Ethics of Complexity and the Complexity of Ethics
AbstractIn this paper, we investigate the implications that a general view of complexity - i.e. the view that complex phenomena are irreducible - hold for our understanding of ethics. In this view, ethics should be conceived of as constitutive of knowledge...
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Vol. 31, No. 1, 2012

Contemporary Anti-Natalism, Featuring Benatar's Better Never to Have Been
1. IntroductionAnti-natalism is the view that procreation is invariably wrong to some degree and is often all things considered impermissible. The variant of anti-natalism that has interested philosophers in the past 15 years or so includes a claim about...
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Better to Be
Suppose a couple knows that if they conceive a child, the child's life on the whole will contain a million units of pleasure and a hundred units of pain. Call this the Lucky Couple. If the Lucky Couple decides to conceive, will their act of conceiving...
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Is Having Children Always Wrong?
Life stinks. Mel Brooks knew it, David Benatar knows it,1 and so do I. Even when life does not stink so badly, there's always the chance that it will begin to do so. Nonexistence, on the other hand, is odor free. Whereas being brought into existence...
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Sick and Healthy: Benatar on the Logic of Value1
AbstractDavid Benatar, in Better Never to Have Been, sets out two arguments in support of the view that coming into existence is always a net harm. Remarkably, the first argument seems to imply that coming into existence would be a net harm even if the...
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Better No Longer to Be1
AbstractDavid Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a harm, and that - for all of us unfortunate enough to have come into existence - it would be better had we never come to be. We contend that if one accepts Benatar's arguments for the...
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Life Is Good
David Benatar has made a number of distinct claims leading to the conclusion that giving birth to people harms them, that it is overall impermissible to do so from a moral point of view, and that hence, giving birth needs to be strongly discouraged (Benatar...
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How Best to Prevent Future Persons from Suffering: A Reply to Benatar1
AbstractDavid Benatar claims that everyone was seriously harmed by coming into existence. To spare future persons from this suffering, we should cease having children, Benatar argues, with the result that humanity would gradually go extinct. Benatar's...
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Antinatalism, Asymmetry, and an Ethic of Prima Facie Duties1
AbstractBenatar's central argument for antinatalism develops an asymmetry between the pain and pleasure in a potential life. I am going to present an alternative route to the antinatalist conclusion. I argue that duties require victims and that as a...
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Furthering the Case for Anti-Natalism: Seana Shiffrin and the Limits of Permissible Harm
1) IntroductionAnti-natalism is the view that it is (almost) always wrong to bring people (and perhaps all sentient beings) into existence. This view is most famously defended by David Benatar (1997, 2006). There are, however, other routes to an anti-natal...
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A New Argument for Anti-Natalism
Arguments for anti-natalism - the view that it's better never to have been born and hence that procreation is wrong- excite more curiosity than approval. The claim is strongly counterintuitive: there are some desperately bad lives but in general it's...
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Every Conceivable Harm: A Further Defence of Anti-Natalism
Many people are resistant to the conclusions for which I argued in Better Never to Have Been1. I have previously responded to most of the published criticisms of my arguments2. Here I respond to a new batch of critics (and to some fellow anti-natalists)...
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