Ottobah Cugoano’s place in the history of political philosophy: Slavery and the philosophical canon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter addresses slavery adequately, even within the framework of the time in which they lived, provides the appropriate context for demonstrating in the third section the radicality of Ottobah Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, first published in 1787. The political task of emancipating the slaves held by European colonists proved an inordinately slow process, but the moral transformation at the popular level, once it began, took place with astonishing speed. One gets an early indication of this by comparing the first and second editions of William Paley’s Moral and Political Philosophy. If one relied solely on textbooks of political philosophy, one would have no idea that the debate on the abolition of both the slave trade and the institution of slavery itself was one of the most prominent and contentious philosophical debates in Europe in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDebating African Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on Identity, Decolonial Ethics and Comparative Philosophy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429796289
ISBN (Print)9781138344952
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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