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There are many actions that we will condemn as morally wrong and should not be done by anyone, such as stealing, murder, bribery, aimed robbery, and corruption, and so on.

However, there are certain actions that everyone considers to be morally good, such as kindness, honesty, respect for elders, hospitality, and so on.

Now, why do we state that some activities are good or right while others are terrible or wrong? How do we determine the goodness or rightness or badness of specific actions?

To answer these and other problems, we need a science that deals with human behaviour. Ethics is defined as the science that studies human behavior1. Thus, ethics is a metre for comparing the goodness or rightness and wrongness or badness of various actions or behaviours.


According to ethical universalism, all ethical judgements, regardless of degree, should be universalisable. Thus, ethical universalism asserts that a single ethical standard of judgement should be applied everywhere.

With an ethical Universalist, all behaviours are to be viewed as universal. This theory or concept asserts that an action that is regarded “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad,” “praiseworthy” or “blameworthy” in Western countries should be accepted by the Yoruba people in Nigeria.


“Ethical relativism demonstrates the diversity or variation of a group or individual’s morality.” In this situation, mortality is determined by individual human behaviour.”2.

However, it is critical to understand that ethical relativism is dependent on a number of other fundamental variables. These include an individual’s or society’s cultural history and social distinctions.

Ethical universalism holds that one single ethical or moral standard of judgement should be upheld throughout the universe, whereas ethical relativism holds that whatever action is judged to be praiseworthy or blameworthy is relative to an individual or a society in a given time or circumstance.


Culture has been defined in a variety of ways, including: ”Every broad general principle of selectivity and ordering — “highest common factor” —- in terms of patterns of and for and about behaviour in every various areas of culture content are reducible to parsimonious generalization”3.

According to the preceding description, culture can evolve not simply from a society’s traditions and conventions. It could also be adopted and assimilated into one’s existing culture in a variety of other ways.

Other methods include the process through which a person or group of people obtains from contact with another person or group of people. This philosophy, like ethical universalism, asserts that all civilizations must be universalizable. Cultural universalism emphasises that if a country ”A” argues that practising culture ”Y” is justified.

If the claim of country ”A” or society ”A” is consistent, it must be agreed that other societies or countries ”A1′, ”A2”, ”A3”, —-, ”An; would be equally justified to practise culture ”Y” in circumstance ”R”. To do otherwise would be an unusual claim.


Cultural relativism asserts that all values are functions or products of their culture and reflect their society’s and culture’s interests. It is a culturally conditioned fact of human experience.

When we analyse societies that are distinct from one another. Some Eskimos, for example, believe that it is preferable to send their elderly people to wastelands to die rather than keep them alive in their old age to suffer.

This is an example of parricide; others include abortion, euthanasia, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. These instances demonstrate that the rightness or wrongness of human activities can signify different things to different societies or even individuals.

That is, no set of moral or ethical norms can exist. Everyone should accept as globally legitimate or individually valid.


The Yoruba society or kingdom encompasses modern-day Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, and some other areas of Kwara and Lagos states, as well as the Republic of Benin.

Because of the homogeneous remains in their language, Yoruba community is commonly seen as a single entity. Despite its numerous varieties, this language is the primary proof of a shared origin and cultural legacy.

A second clue to a shared origin of Yoruba culture is the existence of a cycle of myths and its people throughout the country, as well as the foundations at ”Ile-Ife, the world’s centre of the first kingdom.


In all Yoruba kingdoms, the ”Town,” or ”Ilu,” was the primary political unit upon which government was established. Each kingdom is made up of several towns, but that does not imply that each town or kingdom has multiple distinct governments.”4.

The capital’s government acted as the kingdom’s central government, while the governments of the subordinate cities served as local government units. The system of administration was monarchical, that is, it was governed by an Oba (king) who was entitled to wear a crown at both the central and local levels.

The Oba was divined and served as the town’s political and religious leader. The Oba was considered as a celestial ruler as the head of the administration, and in theory he held absolute power of life and death over his subjects.

His attribute was ”Oba, alase, ekeji Orisa” — monarch, ruler, and god’s companion. He was also addressed as ”kabiyesi” a phrase which is thought to be shortened from of the sentence ”ki-a-bi-o-ko-si”. That is, no one is going to challenge or question your authority.

In a nutshell, the Oba possessed the power of life and death over his subjects and was regarded as a divine sovereign who was not accountable to them for any of his actions.

When the Westerners arrived, the entire Yoruba political ethics shifted and was viewed in a different light. Some people believed that the powers of these divine kings were gradually eroded under the guise of an indifferent rule system,

and that the king’s powers were completely eroded after western Europeans granted the Yoruba people independence and politicians took over the chair of leadership from them.

The traditional roles of Obas and chiefs were alternated, and various forms of loyalty were declined. The moral or ethical implications of this were clear and are still felt in the current interaction between political rulers and Obas in contemporary Yoruba society.

Other observers saw these adjustments as a kind of political re-organization that nonetheless honoured the old system and placed the Obas in positions that they had traditionally held.

After all, they claimed, Obas are still recognised as the chief priest in all religious and ritual rituals across Yoruba territory.


The concept of God was not introduced to the Yoruba people by western missionaries. They believed in the existence of a single ”Great God” who was an integral member of society, as opposed to the western Christian concept of God remaining in heaven, in the community of good Angels.

The Yoruba believed in the existence and power of Deities (spirits) led by an all-powerful God. Wherever you locate a Yoruba man, you will also discover his religion.

Although Yoruba religion is not as sacrosanct as the ”Bible” of western Christians, all chapters of Yoruba religion are inscribed everywhere in the Yoruba people’s lives. There are no unbelievers among the Yoruba.

According to professor John Mbiti, “being without religion or not living a religious life amounts to a self-communication from the entire life of the society,”5

and “Yoruba people do not know how to exist without religion.” To the Yoruba, man’s character is supreme, and it is this that Oludumare (God) judges.6n, Just as man’s well-being on earth is decided by his character, so his place in the afterlife is determined by Oludumare. The Yoruba ethics is a transcendental ethics.

This is due to the fact that it is ultimately based on an objective transcendental moral order. Order that is beyond man’s control and cannot be changed

Although Yoruba religion has not been written down like the precious ”Bible,” Yoruba people believe that it is not enough to embrace a faith that is restricted to a church building that is closed up six days a week and opened only once or twice a week.

Western missionaries were able to generate catechists, pastors, teachers, priests, church wardens, and converts through education. As a result, Yoruba traditional religion was viewed with disdain by missionaries who connected it with ”idol” worship and saw it as a barrier to Christian evangelism and conversion without regard for the moral qualities the people ascribed to it.

According to some Yorubas, this was the beginning of moral laxity among modern Yorubas. Others saw Western religion as the great hammer that abolished immoral practises such as human sacrifices, death of twins, euthanasia, cannibalism, and so on, which resulted in Yoruba traditional religion and ethics without or with little respect for ethical relativism.

Furthermore, some regard western religion as a method for re-integrating Yoruba youngsters who fell victim to social destabilisation and subsequently were socially designated as a result of rural-urban migration.

Finally, the global moral attitude of western religion has so many transcendental moral or ethical qualities that it builds and maintains social solidarity among Yorubas.

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