Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.


A Buddhist Typology of Inherent Values

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 24, 2017

A Buddhist Typology of Inherent Values

Eran Laish
Leipzig University

Intentions and actions are basic elements in Buddhist ethical models. Yet, how are the values of those decided? This article asserts that some of the inherent qualities of lived experience are the basic factors that determine the value of ethical motives and ethical behavior. The examination of Buddhist descriptions of lived experience reveals two complementary types of inherent values—values that accompany individual phenomena and values that indicate structural aspects of human consciousness. Both types manifest certain inherent possibilities of awareness that are necessary for the appearance of ethical values. The first kind of inherent values consists of distinct feelings and volitions, while the second kind includes dualistic and non-dualistic aspects of awareness. By considering these two kinds, it becomes possible to understand how ethical differences are based on distinctions between felt qualities, and how some of these qualities lead to the culmination of the Buddhist path—abiding in non-dual awareness without affective and cognitive afflictions.

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Review: The Ethics of Śaṅkara and Śāntideva

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

The Ethics of Śaṅkara and Śāntideva: A Selfless Response to an Illusory World. By Warren Lee Todd. Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013, xii + 220, ISBN: 9781409466819 (hardback), $149.95.

Reviewed by Joseph S. O’Leary

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Review: Madhyamaka in 12th Century Tibet

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

Reason and Experience in Tibetan Buddhism: Mabja Jangchub Tsöndrü and the Traditions of the Middle Way. By Thomas Doctor. Routledge Critical Series in Buddhism. New York: Routledge, 2014, 156 pages, ISBN 9780415722469 (hardback), $145.

Reviewed by Adam C. Krug

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Holistic Eco-Buddhism and the Problem of Universal Identity

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

Nature’s No-Thingness: Holistic Eco-Buddhism and the Problem of Universal Identity

Marek Sullivan
University of Oxford

“Holistic eco-Buddhism” has been roundly criticized for its heterodoxy and philosophical incoherence: the Buddha never claimed we should protect an “eco-self” and there are serious philosophical problems attendant on “identifying with things.” Yet this essay finds inadequate attention has been paid to East Asian sources. Metaphysical issues surrounding eco-Buddhism, i.e., problems of identity and difference, universalism and particularity, have a long history in Chinese Buddhism. In particular, I examine the notion of “merging with things” in pre-Huayan and Huayan Buddhism, suggesting these offer unexplored possibilities for a coherent holistic eco-Buddhism based on the differentiating effects of activity and functionality.

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The Metaphysical Basis of Śāntideva’s Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

The Metaphysical Basis of Śāntideva’s Ethics

Amod Lele
Boston University

Western Buddhists often believe and proclaim that metaphysical speculation is irrelevant to Buddhist ethics or practice. This view is problematic even with respect to early Buddhism, and cannot be sustained regarding later Indian Buddhists. In Śāntideva’s famous Bodhicaryāvatāra, multiple claims about the nature of reality are premises for conclusions about how human beings should act; that is, metaphysics logically entails ethics for Śāntideva, as it does for many Western philosophers. This article explores four key arguments that Śāntideva makes from metaphysics to ethics: actions are determined by their causes, and therefore we should not get angry; the body is reducible to its component parts, and therefore we should neither protect it nor lust after other bodies; the self is an illusion, and therefore we should be altruistic; all phenomena are empty, and therefore we should not be attached to them. The exploration of these arguments together shows us why metaphysical claims can matter a great deal for Buddhist ethics, practice and liberation.

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Review: Critical Buddhism and Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought. By James Mark Shields. Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-4094-1798-9 (hard-back), $119.95.

Reviewed by Ronald S. Green

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Zen Meets Kierkegaard

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 22, 2015

A Love Knowing Nothing: Zen Meets Kierkegaard

Mary Jeanne Larrabee
DePaul University

I present a case for a love that has a wisdom knowing nothing. How this nothing functions underlies what Kierkegaard urges in Works of Love and how Zen compassion moves us to action. In each there is an ethical call to love in action. I investigate how Kierkegaard’s “religiousness B” is a “second immediacy” in relation to God, one springing from a nothing between human and God. This immediacy clarifies what Kierkegaard takes to be the Christian call to love. I draw a parallel between Kierkegaard’s immediacy and the expression of immediacy within a Zen-influenced life, particularly the way in which it calls the Zen practitioner to act toward the specific needs of the person standing before one. In my understanding of both Kierkegaard and Zen life, there is also an ethics of response to the circumstances that put the person in need, such as entrenched poverty or other injustices.

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Compassion in Schopenhauer and Śāntideva

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Compassion in Schopenhauer and Śāntideva

Kenneth Hutton
University of Glasgow

Although it is well known that Schopenhauer claimed that Buddhism closely reflected his own philosophy, this claim was largely ignored until the mid-late Twentieth century. Most commentators on Schopenhauer (with some recent exceptions) since then have mentioned his Buddhist affinities but have been quite broad and general in their treatment. I feel that any general comparison of Schopenhauer’s philosophy with “general” Buddhism would most likely lead to general conclusions. In this article I have attempted to offer a more specific comparison of what is central to Schopenhauer’s philosophy with what is central to Mahāyāna Buddhism, and that is the concept of compassion.

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Review: The Kyoto School

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

The Kyoto School: An Introduction. By Robert E. Carter. Albany: SUNY, 2013, ISBN: 978-1438445427 (paperback), $24.95.

Reviewed by Ilana Maymind

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Review: The Religion of Falun Gong

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

The Religion of Falun Gong. By Benjamin Penny. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012, xiii + 262 pages, ISBN: 9780226655017 (cloth), $50.00.

Reviewed by Paul Hedges

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Review: Buddhism Goes to the Movies

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Buddhism Goes to the Movies: An Introduction to Buddhist Thought and Practice. By Ronald Green. New York: Routledge, 2014, 166 pages, ISBN: 9780415841481 (paperback), $34.95.

Reviewed by John Whalen-Bridge

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Buddhist Practice as Play

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Buddhist Practice as Play: A Virtue Ethical View

Meynard Vasen

The debate about which Western ethical theory is most suited to understand Buddhist ethics has been fruitful, because it places the Buddhist tradition in a light that brings out new features. In this article I take further Keown’s view on Buddhist ethics by offering a virtue ethical interpretation of Buddhist ethics with praxis/practice as a central notion, and a form of naturalism as foundation. I draw on the notion of play, as developed by Gadamer and Wittgenstein, and on MacIntyre’s view on virtues as grounded in practices, narratives, and traditions, as widening hermeneutical circles. I conclude by arguing that such an interpretation is a fruitful one, both in the sense that it increases our understanding and that it motivates to engage in Buddhist practice.

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Recent Buddhist Theories of Free Will

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Recent Buddhist Theories of Free Will: Compatibilism, Incompatibilism, and Beyond

Riccardo Repetti
Kingsborough College, CUNY

This is the fourth article in a four-article series that examines Buddhist responses to the Western philosophical problem of whether free will is compatible with “determinism,” the scientific doctrine of universal lawful causation. The first article focused on “early period” scholarship from the 1970’s, which was primarily compatibilist, that is, of the view that the Buddhist conception of causation is compatible with free will. The second and third articles examined “middle period” incompatibilist and semi-compatibilist scholarship in the remainder of the twentieth century and first part of the twenty-first. The present article examines work published in the past few years. It largely agrees that Buddhism tacitly accepts free will (although it also explores an ultimate perspective from which the issue appears moot), but mostly divides along compatibilist and incompatibilist lines, mirroring Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhist perspectives, respectively. Of the writers I emphasize, Gier and Kjellberg articulate both perspectives; Federman and Harvey advocate Theravāda compatibilism; and Wallace argues that although determinism and free will are incompatible, subtle complexities of Mahāyāna Buddhist metaphysics circumvent the free will and determinism dichotomy. Although the present article focuses on these writers, as the culminating article in the series it also draws on and summarizes the other articles in the series, and directs the reader to other recent period works that, due to space constraints, cannot be reviewed here.

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The Trolley Car Dilemma

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

The Trolley Car Dilemma: The Early Buddhist Answer and Resulting Insights

Ven. Pandita (Burma)
University of Kelaniya

In this paper, I attempt to give a Buddhist answer to the Trolley Car Dilemma posed by Michael J. Sandel and also present insights that I have discovered along the way.

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Buddhism, Equality, Rights

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhism, Equality, Rights

Martin T. Adam
University of Victoria

How might rights be grounded in Buddhist doctrine? This article begins by attempting to demonstrate the conceptual link between the idea of equality and the ascription of rights in Western philosophic thought. The ideas of Thomas Hobbes are taken as an example. The paper then proceeds to examine the possibility that Buddhist ideas of equality could serve as grounds for the attribution of rights in a similar manner. A number of senses of equality in Buddhism are identified. I argue that while these ideas of basic equality clearly underlie Buddhist morality, any attempt to found rights on such grounds should lead to a conception of rights that is truly universal in scope, notably including the animals. For a Buddhist believer in rights, rights-possession cannot be limited to human beings.

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Resources for Buddhist Environmental Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Resources for Buddhist Environmental Ethics

Christopher Ives
Stonehill College

In recent decades Buddhists have been turning their attention to environmental problems. To date, however, no one has formulated a systematic Buddhist environmental ethic, and critics have highlighted a number of weak points in Buddhist arguments thus far about environmental issues. Nevertheless, Buddhism does provide resources for constructing an environmental ethic. This essay takes stock of what appear to be the most significant of those resources, including the Buddhist anthropology, the tradition’s virtue ethic, elements in Buddhist epistemologies, doctrines that make it possible to determine the relative value of things, the Four Noble Truths as an analytical framework, and bases for action if not activism.

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Rethinking Buddhist Materialism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Liberation as Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhist Materialism

James Mark Shields
Bucknell University

Although it is only in recent decades that scholars have begun to reconsider and problematize Buddhist conceptions of “freedom” and “agency,” the thought traditions of Asian Buddhism have for many centuries struggled with questions related to the issue of “liberation”—along with its fundamental ontological, epistemological and ethical implications. With the development of Marxist thought in the mid to late nineteenth century, a new paradigm for thinking about freedom in relation to history, identity and social change found its way to Asia, and confronted traditional religious interpretations of freedom as well as competing Western ones. In the past century, several attempts have been made—in India, southeast Asia, China and Japan—to bring together Marxist and Buddhist worldviews, with only moderate success (both at the level of theory and practice). This paper analyzes both the possibilities and problems of a “Buddhist materialism” constructed along Marxian lines, by focusing in particular on Buddhist and Marxist conceptions of “liberation.” By utilizing the theoretical work of “radical Buddhist” Seno’o Girō, I argue that the root of the tension lies with conceptions of selfhood and agency—but that, contrary to expectations, a strong case can be made for convergence between Buddhist and Marxian perspectives on these issues, as both traditions ultimately seek a resolution of existential determination in response to alienation. Along the way, I discuss the work of Marx, Engels, Gramsci, Lukàcs, Sartre, and Richard Rorty in relation to aspects of traditional (particularly East Asian Mahāyāna) Buddhist thought.

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Some Problems with Particularism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Some Problems with Particularism

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

This article suggests that due to a restricted understanding of the nature and scope of ethical theory, particularism discounts prematurely the possibility of a metatheory of Buddhist ethics. The textual evidence presented in support of particularism is reconsidered and shown to be consistent with a metatheoretical reading. It is argued that writers who have adopted a particularist approach based on W. D. Ross’s “Principalism”—such as Tessa Bartholomeusz in her study of just war ideology in Sri Lanka—have failed to give a satisfactory analysis of the moral dilemmas they have identified. Although particularism rightly draws attention to stories as important sources of moral data, it fails to disprove that the diversity of such evidence can be explained by a single comprehensive theory.

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A Determinist Deflation of the Free Will Problem

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Metaphysics of No-Self: A Determinist Deflation of the Free Will Problem

Vishnu Sridharan

For over two millennia, the free will problem has proven intractable to philosophers, scientists, and lay people alike. However, Buddhism offers us unique insight into how, when, and why human agency matters to us. In his 2009 book, Consequences of Compassion, Charles Goodman argues that the ultimate nonexistence of the self supports the ultimate nonexistence of free will. Recently in this journal, Riccardo Repetti has critiqued Goodman’s view and made the case that free will does, in fact, ultimately exist. This article first illustrates how Repetti’s view of the self is, actually, entirely consistent with Goodman’s. It goes on to argue that Repetti misconstrues elements of hard determinism as entailing that our wills have no influence on final outcomes. Lastly, it shows how, if Goodman and Repetti are in agreement on the ultimate nonexistence of the self, as well as the causal efficacy of the will, their disagreement about the ultimate existence of free will may be inconsequential.

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Review: A New Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

A New Buddhist Ethics. By Robert M. Ellis. Self Published, 2011, 325 pages, ISBN 978-1-4475-3000-8 (paperback), $25.30 / ePub $6.22.

Reviewed by James J. Stewart

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Western Interpretation of the Five Niyāmas as Laws of Nature

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

The Five Niyāmas as Laws of Nature: an Assessment of Modern Western Interpretations of Theravāda Buddhist Doctrine

Dhivan Thomas Jones
The Open University, UK

The doctrine of five niyāmas, or “orders of nature,” was introduced to Westerners by Mrs. Rhys Davids in her Buddhism of 1912. She writes that the list derives from Buddhaghosa’s commentaries, and that it synthesizes information from the piṭakas regarding cosmic order. Several Buddhist writers have taken up her exposition to present the Buddha’s teaching, including that of karma, as compatible with modern science. However, a close reading of the sources for the five niyāmas shows that they do not mean what Mrs. Rhys Davids says they mean. In their historical context they merely constitute a list of five ways in which things necessarily happen. Nevertheless, the value of her work is that she succeeded in presenting the Buddhist doctrine of dependent arising (paṭicca-samuppāda) as equivalent to Western scientific explanations of events. In conclusion, Western Buddhism, in need of a worked-out presentation of paṭicca-samuppāda, embraced her interpretation of the five niyāmas despite its inaccuracies.

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Buddhism, Punishment, and Reconciliation

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

Buddhism, Punishment, and Reconciliation

Charles K. Fink
Miami Dade College, Kendall Campus

One important foundation of Buddhist ethics is a commitment to nonviolence. My aim in this paper is to work out the implications of this commitment with regard to the treatment of offenders. Given that punishment involves the intentional infliction of harm, I argue that the practice of punishment is incompatible with the principle of nonviolence. The core moral teaching of the Buddha is to conquer evil with goodness, and it is reconciliation, rather than punishment, that conforms to this teaching. I argue that a commitment to nonviolence requires not only that we refrain from inflicting intentional harm, but that we refrain from inflicting unnecessary harm, and that this has important implications concerning the practice of incapacitation. I analyze the concept of harm and argue that the Buddhist understanding of this notion leads to the conclusion that none of the standard justifications for punishment are compatible with the principle of nonviolence, properly understood.

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Buddhist Hard Determinism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

Buddhist Hard Determinism: No Self, No Free Will, No Responsibility

Riccardo Repetti
Kingsborough College, CUNY

This is the third article in a four-article series that examines Buddhist responses to the Western philosophical problem of whether free will is compatible with “determinism,” the doctrine of universal causation. The first article (“Earlier”) focused on the first publications on this issue in the 1970s, the “early period.” The second (“Paleo-compatibilism”) and the present articles examine key responses published in the last part of the Twentieth and the first part of the Twenty-first centuries, the “middle period.” The fourth article (“Recent”) examines responses published in the last few years, the “recent period.” Whereas early-period scholars endorsed a compatibilism between free will and determinism, in the middle period the pendulum moved the other way: Mark Siderits argued for a two tiered compatibilism/incompatibilism (or semi-compatibilism) that he dubs “paleo-compatibilism,” grounded in the early Buddhist reductionist notion of “two truths” (conventional truth and ultimate truth); and Charles Goodman argued that Buddhists accept hard determinism—the view that because determinism is true, there can be no free will—because in the absence of a real self determinism leaves no room for morally responsible agency. In “Paleo-compatibilism,” I focused on Siderits’s reductionist account. The present article focuses on Goodman’s hard determinism, and the fourth article will examine the most recent publications expressing Buddhist views of free will. Together with my own meditation-based Buddhist account of free will (“Meditation”), this series of articles provides a comprehensive review of the leading extant writings on this subject.

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Buddhist Reductionism and Free Will: Paleo-compatibilism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 19, 2012

Buddhist Reductionism and Free Will:Paleo-compatibilism

Riccardo Repetti
Kingsborough College, CUNY

This is the second article in a four-article series that examines Buddhist responses to the Western philosophical problem of whether free will is compatible with “determinism,” the doctrine of universal causation. The first article focused on the first publications on this issue in the 1970s, the “early period”; the present article and the next examine key responses published in the last part of the Twentieth century and first part of the Twenty-first, the “middle period”; and the fourth article will examine responses published in the last few years. Whereas early-period scholars endorsed compatibilism, in the middle period the pendulum moved the other way: Mark Siderits argued for a Buddhist version of partial incompatibilism, semi-compatibilism, or “paleo-compatibilism,” and Charles Goodman argued for a straightforward Buddhist hard determinism. The present article focuses on Siderits’s paleo-compatibilism; the subsequent article focuses on Goodman’s hard determinism.

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Review: An Interpretation and Defense of Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Consequences of Compassion: An Interpretation and Defense of Buddhist Ethics. By Charles Goodman. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, viii + 250 pages, ISBN 978–0–19–537519–0 (cloth), $74.00.

Reviewed by Richard Hayes

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Śāntideva on Justified Anger

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Bile & Bodhisattvas: Śāntideva on Justified Anger

Nicolas Bommarito
Brown University

In his famous text the Bodhicaryāvatāra, the 8th century Buddhist philosopher Śāntideva argues that anger towards people who harm us is never justified. The usual reading of this argument rests on drawing similarities between harms caused by persons and those caused by non-persons. After laying out my own interpretation of Śāntideva’s reasoning, I offer some objections to Śāntideva’s claim about the similarity between animate and inanimate causes of harm inspired by contemporary philosophical literature in the West. Following this, I argue that by reading Śāntideva’s argument as practical advice rather than as a philosophical claim about rational coherence, his argument can still have important insights even for those who reject his philosophical reasoning.

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Review: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Against a Hindu God: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India. By Paramil Patil. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009, 334 pages, ISBN: 978-0674033290 (hardcover); US $45.00. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009, xi + 406 pages, ISBN 978-0231142229 (cloth), US $50.00.

Reviewed by Michael D. Nichols

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Does Anātman Rationally Entail Altruism?

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Does Anātman Rationally Entail Altruism? On Bodhicaryāvatāra 8:101-103

Stephen Harris
University of New Mexico

In the eighth chapter of the Bodhicaryāvatāra, the Buddhist philosopher Śāntideva has often been interpreted as offering an argument that accepting the ultimate nonexistence of the self (anātman) rationally entails a commitment to altruism, the view that one should care equally for self and others. In this essay, I consider reconstructions of Śāntideva’s argument by contemporary scholars Paul Williams, Mark Siderits and John Pettit. I argue that all of these various reconfigurations of the argument fail to be convincing. This suggests that, for Madhyamaka Buddhists, an understanding of anātman does not entail acceptance of the Bodhisattva path, but rather is instrumental to achieving it. Second, it suggests the possibility that in these verses, Śāntideva was offering meditational techniques, rather than making an argument for altruism from the premise of anātman.

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Paternalist Deception in the Lotus Sūtra

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

Paternalist Deception in the Lotus Sūtra:
A Normative Assessment

Charles A. Goodman
Binghamton University

The Lotus Sūtra repeatedly asserts the moral permissibility, in certain circumstances, of deceiving others for their own benefit. The examples it uses to illustrate this view have the features of weak paternalism, but the real-world applications it endorses would today be considered strong paternalism. We can explain this puzzling feature of the text by noting that according to Mahāyāna Buddhists, normal, ordinary people are so irrational that they are relevantly similar to the insane. Kant’s determined anti-paternalism, by contrast, relies on an obligation to see others as rational, which can be read in several ways. Recent work in psychology provides support for the Lotus Sūtra’s philosophical anthropology while undermining the plausibility of Kant’s version. But this result does not necessarily lead to an endorsement of political paternalism, since politicians are not qualified to wield such power. Some spiritual teachers, however, may be morally permitted to benefit their students by deceiving them.

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Buddhist Theories of Free Will: Compatiblism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Earlier Buddhist Theories of Free Will: Compatibilism

Riccardo Repetti
Kingsborough College, City University of New York

This is the first part of a four-article series that examines Buddhist accounts of free will. The present article introduces the issues and reviews earlier attempts by Frances Story, Walpola Rāhula, Luis Gómez, and David Kalupahana. These “early-period” authors advocate compatibilism between Buddhist doctrine, determinism (the doctrine of universal lawful causation), and free will. The second and third articles review later attempts by Mark Siderits, Gay Watson, Joseph Goldstein, and Charles Goodman. These “middle-period” authors embrace either partial or full incompatibilism. The fourth article reviews recent attempts by Nicholas F. Gier and Paul Kjellberg, Asaf Federman, Peter Harvey, and B. Alan Wallace. These “recent-period” authors divide along compatibilist and incompatibilist lines. Most of the scholarly Buddhist works that examine free will in any depth are reviewed in this series. Prior to the above-mentioned early-period scholarship, scholars of Buddhism were relatively silent on free will. The Buddha’s teachings implicitly endorse a certain type of free will and explicitly endorse something very close to determinism, but attempts to articulate the implicit theory bear significant interpretive risks. The purpose of this four-article series is to review such attempts in order to facilitate a comprehensive view of the present state of the discussion and its history.

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A Buddhist Theory of Free Will

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Meditation and Mental Freedom: A Buddhist Theory of Free Will

Riccardo Repetti
Kingsborough College, City University of New York

I argue that central Buddhist tenets and meditation methodology support a view of free will similar to Harry Frankfurt’s optimistic view and contrary to Galen Strawson’s pessimistic view. For Frankfurt, free will involves a relationship between actions, volitions, and “metavolitions” (volitions about volitions): simplifying greatly, volitional actions are free if the agent approves of them. For Buddhists, mental freedom involves a relationship between mental states and “metamental” states (mental attitudes toward mental states): simplifying greatly, one has mental freedom if one is able to control one’s mental states, and to the extent one has mental freedom when choosing, one has free will. Philosophical challenges to free will typically question whether it is compatible with “determinism,” the thesis of lawful universal causation. Both Frankfurt’s metavolitional approval and the Buddhist’s metamental control are consistent with determinism. Strawson has argued, however, that free will is impossible, determinism notwithstanding, because one’s choice is always influenced by one’s mental state. I argue, however, that Buddhist meditation cultivates control over mental states that undermine freedom, whether they are deterministic or not, making both mental freedom and free will possible. The model I develop is only a sketch of a minimally risky theory of free will, but one that highlights the similarities and differences between Buddhist thought on this subject and relevantly-related Western thought and has explanatory promise.

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Dewey’s Metaethics and Theravāda

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 17, 2010

Theravāda Buddhism and John Dewey’s Metaethics

Or Neeman
University of Pittsburgh

In this article I carry out a comparison between the metaethical views of John Dewey in “Theory of Valuation” and the ethical methodology of Theravāda Buddhism. I argue that the latter illustrates how Dewey’s view of ethics may be applied. Specifically, his view is that ethics can be and ought to be a science, and that ethical knowledge, like all scientific knowledge, is causal. Thus, the focus of ethics is on the causes and effects of our actions. This includes a concrete analysis of desire and the context in which it arises. I further argue that the comparison with Dewey helps to transcend the debate over whether Buddhist ethics more closely resemble utilitarianism or Aristotelian ethics.

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Conference: Revisioning Karma

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 12, 2005

Papers from the JBE Online conference

on “Revisioning Karma”

 

Honorary Chairman and Convener: Dale Wright
Occidental College, Los Angeles

 

Critical Questions Towards a Naturalized Concept of Karma in Buddhism

Dale Wright
Occidental College

Groundwork for a Metaphysic of Buddhist Morals: A New Analysis of Puñña and Kusala, in Light of Sukka

Martin Adam
University of Victoria

Merit Transfer in Mahāyāna Buddhism

Barbra Clayton
Mt. Allison University

Reflections on Kant and Karma

Bradford Cokelet
Northwestern University

Karma, Rebirth, and Mental Causation

Christian Coseru
College of Charleston

Is the Buddhist Doctrine of Karma Cognitively Meaningful?

James Deitrick
University of Central Arkansas

Valuing Karma: A Critical Concept for Orienting Interdependence with Wisdom, Attentive Mastery and Moral Clarity

Peter Hershock
East-West Center

Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil

Whitley Kaufman
University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Karma, Character, and Consequentialism

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Karma in the Later Texts of the Pāli Canon

Jessica Main
McGill University

Karma: Buddhism and the Phenomenology of the Ethical

Eric Nelson
University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Dark and Bright Karma: A New Reading

Abraham Velez
Georgetown University

The Reactionary Role of Karma in 20th Century Japan

Brian Victoria
University of Adelaide

Buddhism and Aristotle on Human Rights

ISSN 1076—9005
Volume 8, 2001

Why the Dalai Lama Should Read Aristotle

Stephen McCarthy
Northern Illinois University

The purpose of this paper is to discover a classical foundation for the establishment of universal human rights in Buddhism. Such a foundation must necessarily overcome the modern barrier imposed by the Asian values rhetoric and its claims that “Western,” Lockean, and essentially private ideas of rights have no place in Asian “family-oriented” culture. To facilitate its purpose, this paper will consider the modern, Lockean understanding of “rights” as the source of much of the Asian values’ argument, and proceed to an examination into the compatibility of a Buddhist understanding of human rights with Aristotle’s understanding of ethics and natural law. If it is possible to discover the source of universal human rights in Aristotle’s writings, as well as discover a compatibility to Buddhist beliefs and practices, then we may ground a case for the idea of human rights existing prior to their modern Lockean origins and accessible to Buddhism.

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Review Article: Reflexive Awareness

ISSN 1076–9005
Volume 7, 2000

We Are All Gzhan stong pas

Reflections on The Reflexive Nature of Awareness: A Tibetan Madhyamaka Defence. By Paul Williams. Surrey, England: Curzon Press, 1998, xix + 268 pp, ISBN: 0–7007–1030–2, $55.00.

Reviewed by Matthew T. Kapstein
The University of Chicago

The present review article discusses aspects of Paul Williams’s excellent and highly recommended book, which focuses on the question of “reflexive awareness” (Tib. rang rig, Skt. svasaṃvittiḥ, svasaṃvedana) in Tibetan Mādhyamika thought. In particular, I am concerned with his characterization of so so rang rig ye shes and its relation to Rdzogs-chen teaching, and his notions of the gzhan stong doctrine and its place in the intellectual life of Far-eastern Tibet. My critical remarks on these topics are in many respects tentative, and I would welcome correspondence about them.

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Review: Abhidhamma Studies

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time. By Ven. Nyanaponika Thera. Edited By Bhikkhu Bodhi. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1998, xxviii + 145 pages, ISBN: 0–86171–135–1 (paperback), US $16.95.

Reviewed By Rupert Gethin

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Review: Nāgārjuna’s Philosophy

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Emptiness Appraised: A Critical Study of Nagarjuna’s Philosophy. By David F. Burton. London: Curzon Press, 1999, xvi + 233 pages, ISBN 0-7007-1066-3 (cloth), £40.

Reviewed by Paul J. Griffiths

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Review: Dharmakīrti in Tibet

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti’s Philosophy and Its Tibetan Interpretation. By Georges B. J. Dreyfus. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997, xxi + 622 pages, ISBN 0–7914–3097–9 (hardcover), ISBN 0–7914–3098–7 (paperback), US $68.50 (hardcover), US $22.95 (paperback).

Reviewed by Pascale Hugon

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Review: Environmental Philosophy and Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 7, 2000

Environmental Philosophy and Ethics in Buddhism. By Padmasiri de Silva. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1998, xviii + 195 pages, ISBN: 0-333-67906-7, £50.

Reviewed By Pragati Sahni

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Reflections on the Threefold Lotus Sūtra

SSN:1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Reflections on the Threefold Lotus Sūtra

John R.A. Mayer
Brock University

The Threefold Lotus Sūtra provides some very illuminating insights with respect to many of the debates and oppositions which take place in late twentieth-century Western philosophy. The present paper represents reflections on how this Mahāyāna text is applicable to issues in contemporary philosophy.

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Review: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvāṇa in Early Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvāṇa in Early Buddhism. By Peter Harvey. London: Curzon Press, 1995, viii, 293 pages, 0-7007-0337-3 (paperback), £14.99; ISBN 0-7007-0338-1 (cloth).

Reviewed by Rupert Gethin

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Review: Emptiness in the Mind-Only School

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism: Dynamic Responses to Dzong-ka-ba’s The Essence of Eloquence: I. By Jeffrey Hopkins. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, xiv + 528 pages, ISBN: 0-520-21119-7 (cloth), US$45.00.

Reviewed by Paul G. Hackett

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Review: Philosophical Meditations on Zen

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 6, 1999

Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism. By Dale S. Wright. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN: 0-521-59010-8, US $53.95.

Reviewed by Steven Heine

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Review: Buddhism as Philosophy and Religion

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Bouddhismes, philosophies et religions. By Bernard Faure. Flammarion, 1998, 285 pages, ISBN: 2080355201, 110,00 FF (US $15.00).

Reviewed by Francis Brassard

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Review: Doctrine of Impermanence

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

The Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness: A Survey of the Origins and Early Phase of This Doctrine Up to Vasubandhu, Alt- und Neu-Indische Studien Nr. 47. By Alexander von Rospatt. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1995, 285 pages, ISBN 3-515-06528-8.

Reviewed By John Powers

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Review: The European Interpretation of Buddhism as Nihilism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Le Culte du Néant, Les Philosophes et Le Bouddha. By Roger-Pol Droit. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1997, 361 pages, ISBN 2-02-012507-2, 140 FF.

Reviewed by Alioune Koné

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Review: Buddhism without Beliefs

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 5 1998

Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening. By Stephen Batchelor. New York: Riverhead Books, 1997, xii + 127 pages, ISBN 1-57322-058-2, US $21.95.

Reviewed By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Review: The Human Being According to Early Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

Identity and Experience. The Constitution of the Human Being According to Early Buddhism. By Sue Hamilton. London: Luzac Oriental, 1996, xxxi, 218 pages, ISBN 1-898942-10-2, £40.

Reviewed by Damien Keown

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Review: How Buddhism Began

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. By Richard F. Gombrich. London and Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Athlone, 1996.

Reviewed by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Review: Japanese Buddhism and Comparative Philosophy

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 4 1997

The Social Self in Zen and American Pragmatism. By Steve Odin. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. Pp. xvi, 482. ISBN: 0-7914-2492-8 (paperback), $24.95.

Working Emptiness: Toward a Third Reading of Emptiness in Buddhism and Postmodern Thought. By Newman Robert Glass. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1995. Pp. ix, 146. ISBN: 0-7885-0080-5 (cloth), $38.95; ISBN: 0-7885-0081-3 (paperback), $25.95.

Reviewed by Steven Heine

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