Three Objections to Gyekye’s Functionalist Conception of Development


  • Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ani


I consider three objections to Gyekye’s functionalist conception of development. According to the first objection, the goal of development is ultimately economic development. I examine this objection but find Gyekye’s integrative functionalist conception vindicated. The second objection pertains continuity: it argues that development must be a continuous process. I agree with this objection because (a) there will always be goals to create and accomplish, (b) certain goals, such as the exhibition of certain behaviors, will remain goals in as much as they can never be totally achieved, and (c), existential challenges are ever changing, necessitating that behavioral adaptations to (dealing with) them remains a continuous process. The third objection results from the second: it argues that if development is a continuous process, then no society qualifies to be called “developed.” Since I agree with the second objection, it seems I have to agree with this: in as much as no society has fully captured all of the behavioral attributes necessary for a society to respond adequately to its entire physical and socio-cultural environment, no society should strictly be called “developed.” But we can, nevertheless, use that attribution in a loose or attenuated sense for ease of convenience in a relative context. I conclude with a few reflections about the implications of this discussion for debates in post and alternative development