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Masters Degrees (Philosophy)

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    Suicide and agency in African communitarian societies: a philosophical inquiry into the Basotho culture.
    (2023) Tebeli, Lemohang.; Maraganedzha, Mutshidzi.
    This thesis delves into the nuanced interplay between individual agency and communal responsibilities in addressing suicide, with a particular focus on suicide prevention within African Communitarian Societies (ACS), notably examining the Basotho culture as a case study. The study aims to fill the gap in the existing literature by providing a comprehensive analysis of how cultural practices, social structures, and traditional healing modalities within ACS contribute to suicide resilience and suicide prevention. The significance of this study lies in its exploration of limited communitarianism as a guiding framework for understanding and addressing suicide issues within ACS. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the research illuminates the intricate dynamics between individual autonomy and communal well-being in the context of suicide. Key arguments in the study revolve around the communal practices of the Basotho people, which serve as a testament to their understanding of suicide and well-being as collective responsibilities. The study underscores the significance of integrating cultural sensitivity and community engagement into suicide prevention strategies, advocating for the respect of both individual autonomy and communal responsibilities. In this thesis, I seek to argue that Limited Communitarianism is a viable framework that helps understand the idea of suicide better; hence, suicide is not just an individual act or issue but goes beyond to being a communal one. With this theory, it can be seen that the individual’s rights and dignity are advocated for since limited communitarianism takes each person’s individuality seriously and accords the right to determine their own actions.
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    The authoritarian character: revisited.
    (2022) Govender, Nathisvaran Kumarasen.; Swer, Gregory Huw Morgan.; Sivil, Richard Charlton.
    In this thesis, I revisit the authoritarian character concept, as developed by members of the first-generation Frankfurt School. The authoritarian character concept (ACC) was a concept developed to understand the predisposition of individuals and societies towards seeking the domination of authoritarian demagogic as opposed to realising their own liberation. The need to revisit the ACC came about due to a noticeable rise of authoritarian demagogic leaders within liberal democracies. However, in researching the ACC, I observed that the dominant narrative was incorrect in its interpretation of the conceptual development of the ACC, and subsequently, is overly restrictive with regards to its conceptual parentage as it did not consider conceptual developments outside of 1936-1939. Therefore, in this project, I revisit the ACC with the aim of detailing a conceptually clear understanding of the ACC so that it could be used to help analyse the problem of contemporary authoritarianism. In revisiting the ACC, I hope to achieve four objectives. Firstly, to set out the foundations of the ACC by looking at the Frankfurt School and the conceptual makeup of the ACC. Secondly, was establishing a dominant narrative surrounding the ACC, which I termed the received view of the ACC. This received view holds the conceptual lifespan of the ACC as starting in 1936 and ending in 1939. Thirdly, to show that the received view of the ACC is incorrect with regard to the genesis of the ACC as work had been ongoing on the development of key concepts prior to 1936 and provide a revised account of the ACC to include this early conceptual development. Fourthly, to show that the received view of the ACC is incorrect with regards to the demise of the ACC, in 1939, as work was ongoing on evolving the ACC to meet more modern challenges well into the 1970s. Furthermore, these later developments of the ACC would ultimately complete the teleological arc of the ACC as a concept of Critical Theory as it is within these later developments that the ACC finally fulfils its goal of detailing a possible praxis that works towards an emancipated society.
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    The Problem of the absence of a well-established and contextual philosophy in South African philosophy.
    (2022) Dlomo, Njabulo Clement.; Matolino, Bernard.
    In Ramose’s argument, “for too long, the teaching of Western philosophy in Africa has been decontextualized precisely because both its inspiration and the questions it attempted to answer were not necessarily based upon the living experience of being-an-African in Africa”. Because of this situation, many thinkers have engaged in Western philosophy more as opposed to African philosophy. Only recently some African philosophers like Kwasi Wiredu, Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Kwame Gyekye, etc., established and started engaging in African philosophy. The establishment of African philosophy by these philosophers was due to the need, desire and interest of a philosophy that was reflective of their continent and context. Philosophers like Kwasi Wiredu even went as far as attempting to create a system of governance (Democracy by Consensus) that was inspired by the Ghanaian philosophy of the Akan to reflect the place of philosophy. In South Africa, ubuntu was also invoked as a philosophy by various thinkers such as Mogobe Ramose as a reflection of South Africa as a place of philosophy. Ramose and Wiredu through their reflection did express clearly that Africans as a people are not monolithic. Therefore, each country needs to have a philosophy that will reflect the context and place of a thinker. In South Africa, for a long time, there has been an absence of well-established, relevant, and informative South African philosophy. This can be traced to the practice of South African philosophy from the Apartheid era. During this period, Robert Paul Wolff once visited South Africa in 1986 with the intention of having an experience and an understanding of the academic nature of South African philosophy. His assessment of the nature of this place’s philosophy was not what he expected it to be. The philosophy that was taught in South African Universities, precisely the former white universities, was just an imitation of a philosophy written and taught in American or English universities. This concern proclaimed by Wolff strongly indicates how the place-of-philosophy has been neglected in both African and South African philosophy. Two years after South Africa’s first democratic election and the end of Apartheid, Mabogo P. More, a South African thinker, argued against the failure of South African philosophy to play a significant role in both setting and arguing for an agenda in a political situation that was unfolding in South Africa. This dissertation will seek to point out the problem of the absence of the well-established and contextual philosophy in South African philosophy. The primary contribution of this dissertation to literature is as follows. Firstly, it seeks to show the urgent need for a well-established, informative, and relevant South African philosophy. Secondly, it points out the issues that have emerged due to the absence of a well-established, informative, and relevance of this place’s philosophy. Lastly it seeks to emphasizes the purpose and the relevance of South African philosophy.
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    Metaphysics of race: revisiting four philosophical views.
    (2022) Mthiyane, Sibongakonke.; Matolino, Bernard.; Maraganedzha, Mutshidzi.
    What does race mean in post-apartheid everyday life? Is race real or an illusion? The answer to these questions lies in the idea of how race emerged and is made real in terms of racial categories. South African apartheid government used to classify South Africans by law into a hierarchy, with correspondingly differential access to human rights and freedoms. These racial categories were based on how one looked, how one lived, and what language one spoke. In this context, race in South Africa became normalized through the assumptions about racial culture understood as an expression of race-given essence. Racial categories further created defined places for people in the material and social world. South Africans came to see themselves as these categories, making them subjectively real. This history means that after apartheid, most South African’s experiences continued to be shaped by racialized material and subjective realities. In this regard, it is worth asking: are we warranted in using classifications? What role do they place in shaping our ordinary ontology of race? What influence do they have on racism, and what do people think about race? Hanslanger questions the importance of using racial classifications and asks if they are warranted. In light of this, this thesis answers the question left by Hanslanger about whether racial classifications give us a fruitful way of understanding facts about race. It will argue that racial categories are not warranted; race is an illusion.
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    Rape as rooted in patriarchy: a philosophical perspective on rape in South Africa.
    (2022) Zulu, Thokomele Banele.; Whitaker, Monique Louise.
    The main purpose of this paper is to establish the relationship between rape and patriarchy in the context of South Africa. Primarily, the paper argues that rape can be construed as a tool used to perpetuate patriarchal control. South Africa is recognised as a democratic state with a well-functioning judicial system; despite such a strong system, the prevalence of rape and gender-based violence suggests otherwise. In post-apartheid South Africa, women still grapple with serious security fears; they must think carefully about where they are going, with whom, at what time, and whether their garments have a potential to “provoke” a man. The primary question, ‘Why does rape persist in our society?’, is what this paper seeks to address by contending that it survives to keep patriarchy intact. The paper argues that patriarchy is connected to other systems of oppression, and sexualised violence is a deliberate tool they use to assert dominance over the subordinate groups. The argument that rape is a tool for patriarchy (the number of men raping women is overwhelmingly higher than that of women raping men; Stellings 1993) finds antecedents in the fact that rape and gender-based violence are systemic tools used to assert dominance or as a tool for control.
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    Conceptions of time: a look at the A-theory.
    (2022) Sithole, Anele Nontokozo .; Brzozowski, Jacek Jerzy.
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    Heidegger and the problem of alienation.
    (1975) Singh, Prem Ramdhari.; Rauche, Gerhard A.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    The battle of the cosmos: a comparison of cosmopsychist theories.
    (2020) Hauptfleisch, Kira.; Brzozowski, Jacek Jerzy.
    No abstract available.
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    Ubuntu and modernity in Africa: a critical examination of Ubuntu and its challenges in modern philosophical discourses.
    (2020) Magoso, Kwanele Protas.; Matolino, Bernard.
    The debate between Bernard Matolino and Wenceslaus Kwindingwi’s ‘The end of ubuntu’ and Thaddeus Metz’s ‘Just the beginning for ubuntu [..]’ has been a major force to be reckoned with and a serious bone of contention at least for thinkers such asMatolino; Jonathan Chimakonam; Mojalefa Koenane and Cyril-Mary Olatunji; and Leonhard Praeg. Matolino and Kwindingwiargue thatubuntuas anethical theory anda recommendedway of life has reached itsend. Theyinsist on itsrelevance asserved only by small-scale and tight-knit communities.Not onlyis this so but they also argue that ubuntu is not relevant for modern African realities.On the contrary, Metz thinks that ubuntuis still relevantas an ethical theory and a way of life.He argues thatitsrelevance isnotlimited totraditional and pre-industrial set ups. He thinks that ubuntuis open to the dictatesand dynamicsof modernity since those who reside in large-scale communitieslive up to its values. He suggeststhat scholarly inquiry into and political application of ubuntu must be construed as projects that are only now properly getting started.However, this dissertationseeks to subject thison-goingdebateand its two contributors(Chimakonam and Koenane and Olatunji)to philosophical scrutiny. Its originalcontributionto literatureis two-fold.Firstly,it arguesthat Metz’s; Chimakonam’s; and Koenane and Olatunji’sarguments are neither compelling nor should they be adumbrated as standard replies to Matolino and Kwindingwi. Secondly, it contendsthat ubuntu is not relevant for modern African societies.
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    Evo-existentialism: facing death.
    (2021) Stencel, Daniel Michael.; Spurrett, David.
    Mortality awareness is a uniquely human phenomenon that the existentialists believed science was unable to explain. However, excluding the topic from scientific enquiry doesn’t make as much sense as it previously did. The recent advances in evolutionary biology and neuroscience have provided new ways to access the previously inaccessible existential features of people. Mortality awareness exerts various psychological effects on people which motivate them to behave in different ways. In order to capture the scope of these responses I have developed an integrative defensive behavioural model comprised of six levels coinciding with the Threat Imminence Continuum (Fanselow and Lester, 1988), Survival Optimization System (Mobbs, 2015), A New Defensive Taxonomy (Ledoux and Daw, 2018) and Dennett’s Tower of Generate and Test (Dennett, 1997). I argue that mortality awareness can result in a multitude of defensive behaviours, including fixed reaction patterns, learned habits as well explicit deliberate actions, and there may be competition between them. This range of defensive behaviours can be explained by the following key factors: The intensity of the reinforcer, proximity and appraised emotional intensity. A rigorous evolutionary approach to mortality awareness has not as yet been presented, however recently in psychology a theory has emerged called Terror Management theory (TMT) which has gained influence and support (Greenberg et al., 1986). The proponents of TMT argue that in order to cope with potentially debilitating fear of death, people engage with cultural ideas, beliefs, values, and concepts in an attempt to regulate this fear. People invent, absorb, and cling to cultural worldviews which ultimately avoid and suppress the awareness of death by providing a theory of reality that provides meaning, purpose, significance and the hope of immortality. Death awareness exerts motivational force on human behaviour due to the emotions of fear, anxiety, dread and terror that are associated with it. This is supported by the current findings in both TMT and biology which show that anxiety and fear motivate specific behaviours toward avoidance and continued survival. Hence the avoidance of death- related concerns seems natural. The avoidance and/or suppression of death was a position the existentialists were concerned about. In contrast most existentialists favoured acceptance but they were sceptical whether people could truly face their mortality and accept it. However, recent research in neuroscience provides support for acceptance as a potential coping mechanism. An unlikely convergence presents itself between science and existentialism which provides scope for a cooperative approach.
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    Man's end in Aristotle’s ethics.
    (1975) Posel, Rosalind.; Conradie, A. L.
    Abstract available in PDF.
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    Inconsistencies in the adjudication of rights: an examination of three South African Constitutional Court decisions.
    (2020) Mlotshwa, Cyril Simphiwe.; Matisonn, Heidi Leigh.
    The Republic of South Africa has a constitution that is often lauded as among the best in the world. This can be attributed, at least partly, to the fact that at the heart of it lies transformative constitutionalism, which has the objective of addressing the injustices of the past with the entrenchment of fundamental human rights. Last but not least, the Constitutional Court has to give teeth, metaphorically, to all the human rights in the Bill of Rights. The question this project seeks to answer is whether or not the Constitutional Court does a good job – is consistent - in applying the Bill of Rights to the facts of particular cases. The cases examined in this research project demonstrate that there are inconsistencies in the approach that the Constitutional Court adopts in the adjudication of rights. This study, therefore, attempts to explain why these inconsistencies arise, why they are a problem, and to some degree, how they can be avoided. In an effort to satisfy the above research question and aim of this study, this dissertation is divided into five chapters followed by the requisite bibliography. Chapter 1 introduces the project and gives a historical background to the South African Constitutions with a view to putting the current constitutional position in context. As the inconsistencies seem to play themselves out in the adjudication of rights, the focus of Chapter 2 shifts to the concept of transformative constitutionalism in the hopes of shedding light on why there are inconsistencies in the adjudication of rights. Chapter 3 details the theoretical framework within which judicial decision-making takes place, referring specifically to the work of Ronald Dworkin. This chapter is inextricably linked to Chapter 4 which is an examination of actual applications of judicial decision-making. Finally, Chapter 5 concludes the study and offers some suggestions for the way forward. To briefly note, all the authorities that were consulted for the research are acknowledged in the bibliography.
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    Masculinity and men’s reproductive health rights in the MCSA: a case of the Amadodana.
    (2019) Songwiqi, Lifa.; Siwila, Lilian Cheelo.
    Masculinity and men’s sexual reproductive health rights have been a critical issue worldwide and particularly in Africa, especially in recent years. The health status of people is mostly affected because of their gender in terms of whether are male or female along with the gender stereotypes that are dominant in a specific society. Therefore, the quality of reproductive healthcare in South Africa falls short of addressing the sexual health needs of both men and women. In South Africa there are various barriers that speak to socioeconomic, historical and political challenges which account for the difficulties faced by men. Most reproductive health services focus on the reproductive health of the female body rather than men (or both). Issues of men’s reproductive health are vaguely addressed and there is, therefore, a need for preventative measures that involve men and promote their participation in reproductive health. Therefore, the health-related beliefs and behaviour that men display can be understood as a means of building up or validating gender or a certain masculinity. The aim of the study was to analyse how masculinities are constructed and SRH rights imagined among the Amadodana in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA). It was anticipated that the study could assist in reaching a better understanding of the issue of SRH rights vis a vis the Amadodana, but also contribute to resolving the issue of the Amadodana’s lack of access to SRH rights. In conclusion, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa has unused platform such as of Amadodana where Sexual Rights Health issues can be addressed.
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    Early generation selection of bread wheat (triticum aestivum L.) genotypes for drought tolerance.
    (2018) Shamuyarira, Kwame Wilson.; Shimelis, Hussein Ali.
    Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the third most important cereal crop after rice and maize globally. Dryland wheat production in South Africa is challenged by recurrent drought leading to low profitability for farmers. Development of drought tolerant wheat genotypes presents the most sustainable strategy to mitigate the effects of drought stress associated with climate change. In an attempt to develop drought tolerant wheat genotypes, the wheat research group at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council-Small Grain Institute (ARC-SGI) developed a breeding population and advanced it to the F2 generation. The breeding population was developed through crosses involving selected promising parents with local drought susceptible cultivars. The F2 families need to be advanced to the F3 generation and selected for genetic advancement with regards to drought tolerance and important agronomic traits. Therefore, the overall objective of this study was to select superior drought tolerant bread wheat families at the F3 generation for further screening in advanced generations. The specific objectives of the study were: 1) to undertake early generation selection of wheat genotypes for drought tolerance and agronomic traits for genetic advancement, 2) to determine the combining ability effects and the mode of gene action that controls yield and yield components in selected wheat genotypes under drought-stressed and non-stressed conditions, and 3) to assess the association between yield and yield-components in wheat and identify the most important components to improve grain yield and drought tolerance. Seventy-eight genotypes consisting of 12 parents and their 66 F3 families were evaluated using a 13 x 6 alpha-lattice design with two replications in two contrasting water regimes under greenhouse and field conditions in the 2017/2018 growing season. The following agronomic traits were assessed: number of days to heading (DTH), days to maturity (DTM), plant height (PH), productive tiller number (TN), spike length (SL), spikelets per spike (SPS), kernels per spike (KPS), thousand kernel weight (TKW), fresh biomass (BI) and grain yield (GY). Highly significant differences (P<0.05) were observed for the assessed traits among the genotypes under the two water regimes. Variance components and heritability estimates among agronomic traits and yield showed high values for days to heading and fresh biomass under drought stress. Genetic advance values of 29.73% and 37.61% were calculated under drought-stressed and non-stressed conditions, respectively, for fresh biomass. The families LM02 x LM05, LM13 x LM45, LM02 x LM23 and LM09 x LM45 were relatively high yielding in both stressed and non-stressed conditions and are recommended for genetic advancement. The above data were subjected to combining ability analysis to discern best combiners. Significant general combining ability (GCA) effects of parents were observed for DTH, PH and SL in both the greenhouse and the field under drought-stressed and non-stressed conditions. The specific combining ability (SCA) effects of progenies were only significant for DTH under all testing conditions. The heritability of most traits was low (0 < h2 < 0.40) except for SL which showed moderate heritability of 0.41 under drought-stressed condition. The GCA/SCA ratio was below one for all the traits indicating the predominance of non-additive gene action. Low negative GCA effects were observed for DTH, DTM and PH on parental line LM17 in a desirable direction for drought tolerance. High positive GCA effects were observed on LM23 for TN and SL, LM04 and LM05 (for SL, SPS and KPS), LM21 (TKW), LM13 and LM23 (BI) and LM02, LM13 and LM23 for GY. Families LM02 x LM05 and LM02 x LM17 were the best performers across the test conditions. Significant correlations (P<0.05) were observed between GY with PH, TN, SL, KPS, TKW and BI under both drought-stressed and non-stressed conditions. Partitioning of correlation coefficients into direct and indirect effects revealed high positive direct effects of KPS and BI on GY under drought-stressed conditions. Among all the assessed traits, BI had significant simple correlations of 0.75 and 0.90, and high direct effects of 0.76 and 0.98 with grain yield under drought-stressed and non-stressed conditions, in that order. The top yielding genotypes such as LM02 x LM05, LM02 x LM23 and LM13 x LM45, showed high mean values for KPS, TKW and BI. The overall association analyses indicated that the latter three traits had significant influence on grain yield performance and are useful for selection of drought tolerant breeding populations of wheat. Overall, the present study identified promising families including LM02 x LM05, LM02 x LM23, LM09 x LM45 and LM13 x LM45 that have drought tolerance and suitable agronomic traits. These families can be advanced using the single seed descent selection method for further characterisation of end-use quality traits and comparison with local checks or commercial cultivars.
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    From race to culture: reversing racial illusions.
    (2016) Musaba, Kasonde Michael.; Matolino, Bernard.
    "No abstract available."
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    Rethinking communitarianism and personhood: a critical review of the metaphysical and moral commitments.
    (2017) Mbatha, Lungelo Siphosethu.; Matolino, Bernard.
    exists the notion in African philosophy that to be regarded as a person, an individual needs to be morally excellent, and the way to secure this moral excellence is through maintaining good relations with others, meaning that one has duties directed towards others. This is the view which was popularized in philosophy by Ifeanyi Menkiti (1984) and is known as the communitarian normative conception of person. Proponents of this view tend to stress the importance of the community in facilitating the development of the individual. Kwame Gyekye (1997) argues against Menkiti for the latter’s over-exaggeration of the role of the community, and calls him a radical communitarian for doing so. However, Gyekye ends up committing to the same error as the radicals. As a result, a debate has ensued regarding the appropriate characterization of the community/individual relationship, with the above-mentioned philosophers, classic communitarians, favouring the community over the individual. However, this paper seeks to argue that this view is unattractive because it faces difficulty in conferring the judgement of who counts as a person. Moreover, I argue that this view is open the incoherency between moral excellence and adherence to communal values. As a result, I seek to defend the limited communitarianism conception of person as it escapes these and other difficulties, by positing that persons consist of a metaphysical identity and a social identity, and as a result of the former identity preceding the latter identity, certain individual rights are inviolable.
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    The effects of citizen journalism on the ethics of journalism : the case of the Marikana Massacre and the #FeesMustFall movement.
    (2019) Shandu, Nothando Happy-Girl.; Okyere-Manu, Beatrice Dedaa.
    Citizen journalism has for many years, been conceived as a new phenomenon of the twenty-first century, whereas, it has been around long before this period. Due to the creation of the internet and the readiness and accessibility of technology, the general public has drastically been exposed to various ways of communicating and engaging with news. This often includes the capability of reporting breaking news at a swifter speed than the average professional journalist. The profession of journalism has been significantly affected by the overwhelming phenomena of citizen journalism because professional journalists have to write, edit and crosscheck news at a far more rapid pace. Thus, placing pressure on the profession of journalism and its ethics. Citizen journalism is undeniably a heavily appreciated tool of the present-day as it enables a free flow of news content. This makes it possible to cover the majority of events happening around the world that professional journalists might miss out on. This might be a problem because from an ethical point of view, citizen journalism also presents news content that is unregulated and haphazard in quality and coverage. While this challenge is immense, research on its implications to the profession of journalism and its ethics is minimal. The existing literature focuses on the new and advanced technological way of newsgathering, its production and dissemination with a lack of emphasis on journalism ethics. The current study seeks to examine how citizen journalism affects the ethics of journalism. This is done with the use of the ethical theory of consequentialism. The theory is used to explore and evaluate the consequences of the activities taking place in the use of social media platforms as a source of information and news coverage. The study uses the case of the Marikana massacre and the #FeesMustFall movement as classic examples of how citizen journalism affects the ethics of the profession of journalism.
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    How should biblically-based homophobic/hate speech be treated in South Africa, legally and socially?
    (2019) Webster, Charles.; Matisonn, Heidi Leigh.
    In a country like South Africa where 80% of the population is Christian, many of them quite conservative, and where homophobia is common, it seems likely (given the common biblically-based belief that homosexuality is a sin) that much homophobia stems from scripture, and translates into words, sometimes actions and ultimately harm to the LGBTQI+ community. In this dissertation I argue that Biblically-based homophobic hate speech should not be treated (either in terms of social disapproval or legal punishment) any less severely than any other form of hate speech. The reasons I have focused on Christianity in this dissertation are i) that I hope to help affect jurisprudence in a manner that impacts my own society, ii) that I wanted to start by dealing with the main religious influencer in my own context before branching out more broadly to other religions or geographies and iii) since Christianity is overwhelmingly dominant in South Africa, it is the obvious candidate for my attention in this regard. Given that evidence of the harm caused by homophobic hate speech is fairly unambiguous, and that openly homophobic statements are uttered publicly by both believers and leaders of Christian groups on a regular basis, one might expect a large number of cases to be reported to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The SAHRC’s mandate is, after all, precisely to deal with harm-causing hate speech. Yet very few cases (a few dozen per year) of homophobic hate speech (emanating from whatever source) are reported to the SAHRC. Of those it seems that some cases that arguably have merit are turned away. Simultaneously, annual cases of racist hate speech reported to the SAHRC number in the hundreds – far outstripping their homophobic counterparts. It seems that the legal sanction applied to homophobic hate speech, religiously based or otherwise, is too low in gross terms, given the pervasive nature of discrimination reported by LGBTQI+ people. It also seems that, compared to racist hate speech in particular, homophobic hate speech is vastly under-represented in the reporting stakes. I hope to paint a picture that can help to inform both legislation and jurisprudence in this regard, to support the creation of laws that moderate homophobia, reduce harm, and influence culture to create a safer environment for LGBTQI+ South Africans.
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    Modal realism and acquaintance.
    (2016) Oladapo, Omoge Michael.; Palma, Adriano.
    All propositions intelligible to us, whether or not they primarily concern things only known to us by description, are composed wholly of constituents with which we are acquainted, for a constituent with which we are not acquainted is unintelligible to us. Bertrand Russell, 1910. This thesis explores modal knowledge. Modal knowledge is such that we are often confounded when we are asked to present justifications for it. This is due to (1) the fundamental role acquaintance plays in the formation of knowledge, and (2) the seeming absence of acquaintance with modal facts. Since modal propositions are intelligible to us, then given Russell’s theory, modal propositions are composed wholly of constituents with which we are acquainted despite (2). In this thesis, I argue that we can construct an acquaintance theory for modal facts, and I call such theory ‘modal acquaintance’. Since acquaintance is sufficient as justification for knowledge, then our modal knowledge is justified through modal acquaintance. Chapter 1 introduces modal nihilism and modal scepticism as objections to modal knowledge. It poses the research question, which serves as guide to the analyses and structure of the research and it provides background assumptions. Notable among the assumptions is the adoption of the Lewisian version of modal realism as the theoretical framework of this research. Chapter 2 focuses on the role of acquaintance in knowledge formation and explains that acquaintance could be understood in two senses. The first is the standard Russellian sense and arguably the one absent by default in any function from this world to possible worlds due to its requirement of sense-data as object. The second is not as rigid as the first in that it allows more entities which are internal to the subject to be objects of acquaintance. Among these internal entities, ‘thoughts’ were isolated as the closest identifier of modal facts, precisely because the truth of modal thoughts depends on whether or not they correspond to modal facts. This correspondence allows for the construction of modal acquaintance. Chapter 3 presents accounts of how we have modal knowledge. The presentation begins with Lewis on how we know the contents of his possible worlds. Then, I consider some recent accounts of modal epistemology. The accounts include Yablo and Chalmers in the conceivability camp; Williamson and Hill in the counterfactual camp; and Bealer in the understanding camp. Chapter 4 explains why acquaintance provides a straightforward way to justifying modal knowledge. Since Lewis urges us to take more seriously the metaphysics of modality than its epistemology, attention shifted to the recent account of modal epistemology. The recent accounts were incorporated into the Lewisian modal realism before identifying which among them contains an account of modal justification. They were all found wanting, hence, modal acquaintance was put forward as a better alternative. The theory of ‘threshold’ was developed as a cross-world apparatus to enable modal acquaintance to achieve its justification task.
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    The influence of Christian values in post-1996 South Africa : a philosophical perspective.
    (2017) Mutelo, Isaac.; Matisonn, Heidi Leigh.
    One of the many attractions of South Africa post-1996 is its apparent ability to allow the coexistence of both religious and non-religious values in society. Among the many religions in South Africa, Christianity has always held a prominent position. In both the past and the present, the influence of Christianity politically, socially and morally has been significant. This study focuses on the influence of Christian values post-1996. A critical examination of the post-1996 interplay between religious freedom and other non-religious rights and freedoms shows that certain Christian values have given rise to a predicament in which there is a clash of rights. The clash of rights arises from the fact that certain rights and democratic values are infringed upon by some Christian values in society. This indicates that the role of Christian values in society and how far such values can be permitted in society remains unclear. The study seeks to track – and unpack – the above predicament or clash of rights with reference to the writings of selected key thinkers and three judgements of the Constitutional Court relating to the problem. The predicament and the unclear position of Christian values partly caused by a conflict of religious and non-religious rights in South Africa is the impetus for this research and the contribution it seeks to make. In that regard, the study will explore and critically analyse the possibility of overcoming the predicament or conflict of rights arising from the influence of certain Christian values in South Africa post-1996. By exploring three Constitutional Court cases which will be used as case studies and the views of key thinkers on this study area, an interpretation of religious freedom and what it entails will be reached. I will discuss and analyse what I consider to be the three strategies being used in contemporary scholarship and legal systems to deal with the predicament. Although the reconciling or balancing of conflicting rights is evident from current scholarly discussions and judicial decisions, the notion of exemption is also considered. Further, the concept of an objective appeal to public reason which this study considers as being primarily based on the three democratic values of equality, human dignity and freedom will be emphasised. The centrality of this notion, which this study considers as central in transcending the stipulated predicament or conflict of rights, needs emphasis due to the fact that public reason precedes the values of a particular religious institution as Lenta rightly upholds. From this perspective, this study will stress that only those Christian values which are not contrary to democratic values and do not infringe upon the rights of others ought to be permitted to influence society.