Metz: “Toward an African Moral Theory”

Camryn Gamble
2 min readFeb 7, 2021


By reading the introduction, this paper seems like it will be very interesting to read because Metz is focusing on the ethical ideologies of one specific group. I think it will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between North American and African ethics. He explains how most moral codes are “too Western” or too vague for those of African roots. He introduces the concept of ubuntu as a way to better include the African community into our western morals.

In the first section, Metz discusses ubuntu and defines it as humanness and that people live through other people/everyone is connected. Reading this, I think I would say ubuntu is the idea that everyone shares their life with others in the community and their thoughts on morality come from the connectedness within the community. He gives multiple moral scenarios and discusses how classic western thought would be applied as well as African thought with this concept of ubuntu.

The next section goes over six interpretations of ubuntu. Like the handout says, the sixth interpretation seems to be the best one in regard to the morality that was discussed in section one. This is a relational property because it involves two parallel things as opposed to things being independent from one another (internal).

The third section goes into more detail about U6 (the sixth interpretation from the previous section); more specifically, harmony and togetherness. He essentially discusses the importance of a shared identity between the two, their good-will, and their shared combination of these elements. He discusses this for a while and brings up the question of how our western ideals compare to the African ideals for this situation of U6.

The last section is just a conclusion of African ethics as defined by Metz. He goes over harmony and rightness and what the community contributes to moral situations and concepts. While he does not say this African thought is the right way to think about morality, he just wants us westerners to think a little more like those with a more African perspective.