Dr Jason van Niekerk

Jason van Niekerk
MA (Rhodes), PhD (Wits)

Academic Background

Jason van Niekerk is a contract lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare in 2019. He completed his PhD thesis, "Ubuntu and Moral Value" under the supervision of Thaddeus Metz and Lucy Allais at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2013, and was an NRF/DST Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Jurisprudence, University of Pretoria, from 2014-2016. In 2014 he served on the Academy of Sciences of South Africa's Committee for the Scientific Understanding of Sex and Gender in Africa, and was a co-author of their 2015 report Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa.

Areas of Teaching and Research Specialisation

Dr van Niekerk has taught - primarily Ethics, Critical Reasoning, and African Philosophy - at Rhodes, Wits, the University of Pretoria, and Monash South Africa. A thread running through all of his research interests is the question of what moral demands our communities can make of us, and what limits there might rationally be to those. In his MA and PhD work, that meant investigating Kwame Gyekye's claim that African moral theories have no concept of supererogatory goods (things that are good to do, but not wrong not to do), and how to understand ubuntu as a moral perfectionist theory (a theory which says that we should strive to develop what is good in ourselves and others to the greatest degree). His more recent research has looked at the communitarian demand to understand and commune with sexual minorities (rather than insisting that they conform to majority preferences); the demands for humility and consideration made on us by others; and reading African Communitarianism alongside Robin Dillon's "Critical Character Theory," where virtue ethics are considered in light of societal injustice.

Publications

"The Analytic Appeal of African Philosophy," 2015. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol 34 (4): pp 516-525.

Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa. 2015. Co-Authors: H. Dugmore, H. Coovadia, G. Gray, C. Beyrer, D. Higginbotham, J. Kiguli, B. Kramer, J. McIntyre, J. Nel, M. Pepper, J. Singh, M. Steyn.

"On the Tension Between Ubuntu and Simunye," [published by the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (Washington D.C.) in 2011], Proceedings of the St Augustine Conference on African Philosophy and the Future of Africa, 2007: pp 61-71.

"The Virtue of Gossip," 2008. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol 27 (4): pp 400-412.

"In Defence of an Autocentric account of Ubuntu," 2007. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol 26 (4): pp 364-368.