GRACE Editors' introduction to the Frameworks Section

Abeba Birhane's Relational Ethics


  • Bethel Bayrau Stanford Medical School
  • Wayne Chinganga Stanford University


Relational Ethics, AI Ethics, Algorithms


Dr. Abeba Birhane's provocative AI ethics paper, “Algorithmic Injustice: A Relational Ethics Approach,” draws on frameworks too often neglected in AI ethics studies. Her important work on race, justice, and ethics frameworks for machine learning algorithms calls for inclusion of relational Sub-Saharan African philosophies in such a curriculum. Delineating the ethical limitations of European individualist rationality as a definition for personhood, especially in marginalized communities and on the African continent, Birhane shows how traditionally European frameworks fail to address the perspectives of those whom AI most impacts. Following many important African philosophers like Mogobe B. Ramose, Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Sabelo Mhlambi, and others, Birhane offers the AI Ethics community important insights from African relational ethics, which link one’s personhood to the personhood of others, and show that to talk about AI harms one must understand the communal relational perspective.

Mosaic Art of Stanford Black Engineers at Wallenberg