The First Black African Woman Philosophy PhD in South Africa


Mpho Tshivhase is the first black African woman to earn a doctoral degree in philosophy in South Africa.

She graduated with her PhD in philosophy from the University of Johannesburg this past April.

In a profile at Independent Online, Dr. Tshivhase, age 32, says she was not aware until after she completed her degree that there hadn’t been another black woman in South Africa to earn a PhD in philosophy.

Her dissertation is entitled “Towards a Normative Theory of Uniqueness of Persons.” According to her dissertation supervisor, Thaddeus Metz, it is “the first systematic treatment of uniqueness as something valuable that can be manifested in a person’s life. In it, Dr Tshivhase distinguishes the value of uniqueness from other values such as happiness and morality, arguing that it merits attention as something worth having in its own right. She also points out that existing philosophical accounts of uniqueness all share the counterintuitive implication that everyone is always already unique.” Metz says more about her work in this press release from her university.

The University reports that, in addition to her research, Dr. Tshivhase is “working to apply for grants that will enable her to establish research projects that would fund Master’s and Doctoral students with a particular focus on developing female students. She has a keen interest in mentoring younger black female students to take up postgraduate studies in Philosophy. She says this is a more challenging project since most students worry about what they can do with Philosophy once they graduate.”

You can learn more about Dr. Tshivase here and here.

Tshivhase Mpho, PhD

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