The Journal of Buddhist Ethics interprets “ethics” in a broad sense as including subject matter in the ten areas listed below.
Research into all aspects of Buddhist monastic discipline. The origins and development of the Vinaya; its categories, structure, and organization; its provisions on specific matters; comparative studies of the Vinayas of different schools; legal and jurisprudential principles.
Issues in contemporary medical ethics and biotechnology; abortion, embryo research, reproductive technologies (IVF, AID etc.), and genetic engineering; AIDS; organ transplants; resource allocation; informed consent; coma patients and the persistent vegetative state; criminal and medical law; suicide; defining death; terminal care and euthanasia; state medicine and health policy.
Theories of ethics and meta-ethics; codes of ethics; moral obligations; altruism and compassion; virtues; patterns of justification; teleological, deontological, and consequentialist theories; situation ethics; the quality of life; the value of life; personhood; ethics and human good; natural law; the status of moral norms; moral absolutes; “skillful means.”
The Buddhist basis for a doctrine of human rights and its provisions; the concept of “rights” in Buddhism; fundamental rights of individuals; autonomy and self-determination; human dignity; equality; justice; freedom; privacy; the protection of rights; women’s rights; international codes, charters and declarations; human rights abuses in Buddhist cultures.
The relationship between psychology and moral conduct; the psychology of moral judgments; the analysis of ethical terminology in the Abhidharma and elsewhere; the concepts of motive, intention, will, virtue, and character; the emotions; desire; love; moral choice and self-determination; related issues in philosophical psychology.
Responsibilities and obligations toward nature; animal rights; the moral status of animals and non-sentient life; experimentation on animals; philosophy of biology; speciesism; evolution; future generations; the relationship between Buddhist and other environmental philosophies.
The Buddhist blueprint for a just society; the nature and role of the state; rights and duties of governments and citizens; democracy and alternative political systems; socialism, communism, and capitalism; social, educational, and welfare provisions; Buddhist law; law and ethics; Buddhism and war; nuclear warfare; revolution; capital punishment; justifiable killing; pacifism and ahimsa.
Ethics in practice in Buddhist societies; ethics and social mores; the influence of indigenous customs and attitudes on moral teachings; rites de passage; variation in marriage and other customs; the great tradition and the little tradition; moral relativism; cultural pluralism.
Similarities and differences between Buddhism and other world religions in the field of ethics; the basis for dialogue; ethics and metaphysics; hermeneutics and the derivation of moral norms from scripture.