Doctoral Degrees (Philosophy)

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    Ritual partisans or Rational voters? Voting behaviour in Botswana’s electoral democracy: 2008-2019
    (2023-03) Seabo, Batlang; Schulz-Herzenberg, Colette
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Botswana has sustained its multiparty electoral democracy which was established since independence in 1966. However, there are concerns about one party dominance within a multiparty system. The implications are that if voting reflects long-standing social and political identities, then opportunities for minorities to become majorities are slim. Also, democratic consolidation is delayed if voting decisions are based on ascriptive social and long standing entrenched partisan identities. This study departs from the premise that Botswana has undergone significant socioeconomic transformation over the last thirty years. These events, including increases in the society’s levels of education and access to political information through a wide array of media, hold significant implications for the voting motivations of Botswana’s citizens. Using three cross-sectional Afrobarometer surveys (the 2008, 2014 and 2019 rounds), this study investigates the underlying motivations of Botswana’s voters by analyzing competing theoretical voting models, namely the sociological, partisanship and rational choice theories of voting to assess firstly, which of these theoretical families is the most powerful and persuasive, and secondly, whether Botswana’s socioeconomic developments have changed the explanatory power of voting motivations over time. The study expects to find that Short-term economic and political performance evaluations increase in importance while sociological factors and partisanship decline in their ability to structure vote choice. Moreover, increases in education levels and access to political information should produce skilled voters who rely less on long-standing sociological and partisan cues to guide their voting decisions but more on Short-term rational choice factors. Thus, the study tests whether a process of cognitive mobilization is unfolding in Botswana and is moderating the voting decisions of voters, especially among those who are cognitively mobilized voters. Bivariate and multivariate (logistic regression) techniques are used to analyze the data and address these research objectives.
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    The moral justifiability of hydraulic fracturing assessed against the Principle of Double Effect
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-11) Liezl, Groenewald; Rossouw, Gedeon Josua; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates whether hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, could be morally justified assessed against the Principle of Double Effect. This Principle emanates from the Just War Tradition and holds that an action that aims to produce a good effect, but produces harmful side-effects, is morally acceptable if the act is good in itself, or morally neutral, the intention of the actor is good, and the side-effects are not a means to the goal, the good effect is morally permissible if it is directly produced by the action and not by the harmful side-effects, and the good effect is sufficiently good to compensate for allowing the harmful side-effects. Apart from being applied in warfare to jus in bellum (justice in war) decisions, the Principle of Double Effect has also been applied in the field of bioethics and in business decision-making. Based on the analogies and disanalogies between war and business, a revised Principle of Double Effect for application in transnational business decisions has also been developed, but its transferability remains problematic. In this study the classical formulation of the Principle from jus in bellum considerations is thus applied to the moral discourse about fracking in South Africa. The discourse about hydraulic fracturing in South Africa generated lively debates among activists, government officials, corporations, and communities. These debates have been informed by various motives ranging from self-interest, diverse ideological paradigms, competing monetary interests, and concern for communities and the environment. Although some opponents and most proponents relied on empirical evidence to support their arguments, none applied a moral decision-making framework to arrive at their opinions regarding fracking. The study identifies the main themes in the discourse about fracking in specifically the Karoo Basin – an arid semi-desert area in South Africa. Seven main themes are explored based on the arguments posited by opponents and proponents of fracking. This is followed by an evaluation of the discourse against the four conditions of the Principle of Double Effect to determine if fracking could be morally justifiable given its foreseeable harmful side-effects. Corporations in the oil and gas industry should take heed of the findings when developing their corporate social responsibility strategies, as it was found that fracking cannot not be morally justified assessed against the four conditions of the Principle of Double Effect.
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    A feminist rereading of the figure of Winnie Mandela
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Smith, Charla Emmarentia; Du Toit, Louise; Coetzee, Azille; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation uses two levels of analysis to explore the meaning that was made of the figure of Winnie Mandela throughout her life. The first level exposes the patriarchal, nationalist image of her and the second explores the symbolic order, the level at which these meaning-making frameworks operate. The aim is to instil a heightened understanding of the effective working of the dominant symbolic underlying our interpretive shaping into existence of a figure such as Winnie Mandela. Three key themes in her life are explored per chapter namely, wife (Waiting Woman), Mother, and (politically) violent woman, by employing Irigaray and Cavarero’s method of mimicry and rereading myths. She is read as emblematic of the fate of the feminine in South Africa’s struggle history and political transition. The reading and critical rereading and the posing of alternative interpretations of her as a figure, open up a range of different representations of her life, as opposed to simply juxtaposing “the right” interpretation with “the lie”. There is no attempt to hypostatise any representation of her, instead the reader is encouraged to activate their own image of her and enter a critical dialogue with the text. It is within this type of continuous critical engagement that the meanings attached to “man” and “woman”, and how they function as interpretative filters, can begin to change significantly. I show that, by rethinking the ways in which women can act or speak once they start speaking in a symbolic order that more fully represents them, we can empower women in a political space. In other words, by reimagining and challenging the symbolic order, new possibilities for women acting, speaking and leading in the public/political sphere open up. By exposing the ways in which women have been excluded from philosophy under the feminine symbolic principle of unknowability, immanence and excess, the intention is to reveal the ways in which they are excluded from “full membership of the human community” and to show how this exclusion spills over, both into political exclusion and into our reading practices and interpretive frames. The project aims to understand whether and how women are figured and symbolised as subjects and to what extent this figuration influences access to political power. To this end, the guises women are required to adopt as wife, or mother to enter politics is considered specifically also with reference to Afrikaner and African nationalisms. he consequences of exceeding these roles is discussed throughout and the ways in which the figure of Winnie Mandela challenges and disrupts the Irigarayan/Cavarero inspired theoretical frame I use is a recurring theme.
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    Being harmed and harming: government responsibility for inadequate healthcare
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Komu, Philbert Joseph; Roodt, Vasti; De Villiers-Botha, Tanya; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Despite the importance of the concept of harm in formal and applied ethics, the concept itself has received comparatively little attention. This dissertation aims to develop a concept of harm that can carry the weight of the moral arguments that rely on it. It is generally considered wrong to harm others, and as a good thing to act in a way that avoids, prevents, or lessens harm to them. Yet we are often hard-pressed to say what it is for a thing to be harmed, or to cause harm. Traditionally, there are non-comparative accounts of harm whose generalised view is that harms are at the same time intrinsic bads, and comparative accounts which commonly view harms as events that leave us worse off than we historically were before their occurrence or than we would have counterfactually been had the events not occurred. On the one hand, both of these accounts are inconsistent with some of our moral intuitions about harm; on the other, they do accept – but fail to show why – it is impossible to think of harms that are not bad for their victims in some respect. In this dissertation, I defend the concept of harm as prudential disvalue, which coherently holds that harms are bad for their victims from their own perspective. In order to avoid being radically subjective and including trivial things under the definition of harm, I adopt the “appealing-life view”, arguing that harms are things that detract from the appealworthiness of being in someone’s position. I then apply this revised concept of harm to a real-world example. I show why the lack of access to adequate healthcare services in Tanzania is a harm, in what respects the Tanzanian government is responsible for this harm, and why this harm is not justified, which renders the government morally blameworthy. In the domain of formal moral theory, the dissertation contributes to the scholarly literature on the problem of harm. In the field of applied ethics, the dissertation helps us to understand not only the nature of hardships endured by people within an inadequately-resourced and -managed healthcare system, but also the responsibility for the harm suffered as a result of these institutional failures.
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    In defence of the public-private distinction with regard to sexual orientation: Zambia as a case study
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Phiri, Emmanuel; Roodt, Vasti; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy. Dept. of Philosophy: Centre of Applied Ethics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: his dissertation aims to make a contribution to the field of political ethics by bringing the normative justification for the public/private distinction to bear on a specific case of law- giving. The case in question involves the criminalisation of homosexuality in Zambia. Under Zambian law, so-called ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ carries a hefty prison sentence, on the grounds that the actions to which these laws apply are widely held to be morally wrong throughout Zambian society. Support for these laws is thus derived from a comprehensive moral view to which a large majority of Zambians subscribe. On the other hand, Zambia’s Constitution proclaims it to be a democratic society, in which all citizens have equal status before the law and equal dignity, and all are assured of freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, movement and association. Given Zambia’s constitutional commitments to the latter political values, it follows that coercive laws must be appropriately justified to its citizens. This dissertation argues that the criminalisation of homosexuality in Zambia cannot be so justified. I develop this argument with reference to the notion of the public/private distinction – understood as a distinction between personal moral beliefs on the one hand, and the political values that enable citizens with different comprehensive moral views to live together in a cooperative way on the other. In so far as this distinction is a key feature of the political liberalism developed by Rawls and others, the theoretical component of the dissertation therefore entails an extensive analysis and defence of the main tenets of political liberalism. While political liberalism is commonly considered to belong to the domain of ideal theory and therefore unlikely to be action- guiding when it comes to policy and legislation, I further seek to demonstrate the relevance of political liberalism as a normative framework when it comes to procedural political ethics. I develop the above argument in six steps. I begin by providing a detailed account of the origins, content, and various justifications for Zambia’s laws regarding homosexuality, and showing that all of these justifications depend on comprehensive moral beliefs being made into the grounds of public laws. From Chapter 2 onwards, I build up the case for the opposite – that is, for drawing a distinction between personal moral beliefs and public, political values, and justifying legislation on the grounds of the latter, not the former. After investigating the origins and main tenets of liberalism in Chapter 2, I present the argument for political liberalism in Chapter 3. While comprehensive liberalism is grounded v in a conception of the good, political liberalism is meant to be free-standing, in that its justification is grounded in ideals of public reason that are present in the political culture of liberal democratic societies. I show why this is so, and why considerations of sexual orientation are, in fact, conceptions of the good life which, as such, cannot underwrite either the legitimacy of political authority or social stability. Chapter 4 narrows the focus from the general account of political liberalism to the public/private distinction in particular, as a necessary condition for persons who sharply disagree on conceptions of the good life, to nevertheless agree on constitutional principles that guide the political, legal and economic basic structure of their society. In Chapter 5 I take a step back from the main argument to consider the challenges of political liberalism emanating from its feminist and communitarian critics – both African and Western. I subject both sets of criticisms to the test of pluralism: that is, whether the alternative proposed better equips a democratic society to deal with the inevitable fact of deep disagreements about the good on the part of its citizens. I conclude that approaches that oppose the public/private distinction altogether, rather than merely refining it, fail the test of pluralism. In the sixth and final chapter, I apply the normative argument in favour of the public/private distinction to the public, political and legal reasoning regarding sexual orientation in Zambia. I show that each of these arguments violates one or more of the normative criteria of justification I have developed in the preceding chapters and should therefore be rejected. I conclude that persons who disagree on the morality of homosexuality both can and should reject, as citizens, the current Zambian law against homosexuality. In developing the above-mentioned argument, this study also seeks to open up ethical reflection about an issue which most Zambians would rather not talk about. By openly engaging with the issue and inquiring into the assumptions, prejudices and implications of the views about homosexuality that underlie Zambia’s criminalisation of homosexuality, I hope to contribute to the critical self-reflection that is a prerequisite for responsible citizenship – on my own part, and on the part of my compatriots.