Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for November 14th, 2013


Śāntideva on Gifts, Altruism, and Poverty

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Compassionate Gift of Vice: Śāntideva on Gifts, Altruism, and Poverty

Amod Lele
Boston University

The Mahāyāna Buddhist thinker Śāntideva tells his audience to give out alcohol, weapons and sex for reasons of Buddhist compassion, though he repeatedly warns of the dangers of all these three. The article shows how Śāntideva resolves this issue: these gifts, and gifts in general, attract their recipients to the virtuous giver, in a way that helps the recipients to become more virtuous in the long run. As a consequence, Śāntideva does recommend the alleviation of poverty, but assigns it a much smaller significance than is usually supposed. His views run counter to many engaged Buddhist discussions of political action, and lend support to the “modernist” interpretation of engaged Buddhist practice.

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Cultivation of Virtue in Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Cultivation of Virtue in Buddhist Ethics

Charles K. Fink
Miami Dade College, Kendall Campus

One question pursued in Buddhist studies concerns the classification of Buddhist ethics. Damien Keown has argued that Aristotelian virtue ethics provides a useful framework for understanding Buddhist ethics, but recently other scholars have argued that character consequentialism is more suitable for this task. Although there are similarities between the two accounts, there are also important differences. In this paper, I follow Keown in defending the aretaic interpretative model, although I do not press the analogy with Aristotelian ethics. Rather, I argue that Buddhist ethics corresponds to a more generic, act-centered virtue ethics. Buddhist moral reasoning is often strikingly consequentialist, but I argue that this does not support the consequentialist interpretation. Analyzing the concept of right action must be distinguished from providing a justification for living a moral life and from formulating a procedure for making moral decisions.

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Review: Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700. By Jimmy Yu. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, xiv + 272 pages, ISBN 978-0-19-984490 (paperback), $29.95.

Reviewed by Nikolas Broy

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Review: Theos Bernard, the White Lama

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life. Paul G. Hackett. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, xxii + 494 pages, ISBN 978-0-231-15886-2 (cloth), $32.95.

Reviewed by David M. DiValerio

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Review: Bodh Gaya Jataka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Site: Bodh Gaya Jataka. Edited by David Geary, Matthew R. Sayers, and Abhisek Sing Amar. London: Routledge, 2012, ISBN 978-0415684521 (hardback), $150.00.

Reviewed by Brooke Schedneck

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