Subject Categories

The Journal of Buddhist Ethics interprets “ethics” in a broad sense as including subject matter in the ten areas listed below.   

1. Vinaya and Jurisprudence

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.   

2. Medical Ethics

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.   

3. Philosophical Ethics

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.”   

4. Human Rights

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.   

5. Ethics and Psychology

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.   

6. Ecology, Animals and the Environment

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.   

7. Social and Political Philosophy

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.   

8. Cross-cultural Ethics

Buddhism and comparative religious ethics; methodologies for the study of Buddhist ethics.   

9. Ethics and Anthropology

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.   

10. Interfaith Dialogue

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.

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An online journal of Buddhist scholarship