Rhodes>AGCLE>Publications>Books by Prof Tabensky


Solo-Authored Book

Happiness: Personhood, Community, Purpose (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003).

For a comprehensive analysis of the book see a Symposium on the book in the South African Journal of Philosophy, vol 23 (4), 2004. Available online at:


I am current working on two further books authored solely by me:

Shadows of Goodness: A Secular Theodicy: I explore the idea that evil, broadly conceived, may be necessary for goodness  

Radical Optimism: Here I intend to reflect on the consequences for life and justice of living a life informed by the best account available of free will, which rejects the archaic yet recalcitrant notion of desert-entailing moral responsibility.

Edited books

Book on institutional culture, to be published by UKZN Press, 2014.

The Positive Function of Evil (London: Palgrave, 2009).

For further details see: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=304201


‘An unusual and stimulating collection. The presence of evils in our world so often discussed from the religious point of view, is here tackled from a largely secular perspective. The papers open up a fascinating array of ethical and psychological questions about the human moral predicatmament.’

John Cottingham (Reading)

‘It is perhaps no surprise that the country which gave the world the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should also play host to creative and unorthodox work in moral philosophy. Welcome evidence of the fact comes in the shape of this stimulating  volume of essays, which explore various aspect of the question whether human life is made better by the presence in it if evil.’

Edward Harcourt (Oxford)


‘a first-rate collection of thought-provoking essays on an important topic’


‘Secular ethics is often associated with the rejection of religious and traditional conceptions of value. In its extreme forms, as in Bentham’s utilitarianism, it offers us instead a far more frugal understanding of value. But as Bernard Williams repeatedly tried to remind us, a naturalistic outlook hardly implies that our evaluative outlook must be simple, and this collection is to be lauded for exploring ways of retrieving important evaluative ideas that, while associated with (or originating in) religious ways of thinking, might be of great independent interest.’

Guy Kahane (Oxford), South African Journal of Philosophy

Judging and Understanding: Essays on Free Will, Narrative, Meaning and the Ethical Limits of Condemnation (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).

For further details see:



For online reviews of the book see:



Another review: Philosophical Papers, Vol. 37, No. 1 (March 2008): 177-184.

Tabensky (ed.), Race and Higher Education (UKZN Press, forthcoming 2013).

Last Modified: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:13:15 SAST