Buddhist Ethics: A Philosophical Exploration

ISBN : 9780190907648

Jay L. Garfield
248 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2021
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Buddhist Ethics presents an outline of Buddhist ethical thought. It is not a defense of Buddhist approaches to ethics as opposed to any other, nor is it a critique of the Western tradition. Garfield presents a broad overview of a range of Buddhist approaches to the question of moral philosophy. He draws on a variety of thinkers, reflecting the great diversity of this 2500-year-old tradition in philosophy but also the principles that tie them together. In particular, he engages with the literature that argues that Buddhist ethics is best understood as a species of virtue ethics, and with those who argue that it is best understood as consequentialist. Garfield argues that while there are important points of contact with these Western frameworks, Buddhist ethics is distinctive, and is a kind of moral phenomenology that is concerned with the ways in which we experience ourselves as agents and others as moral fellows. With this framework, Garfield explores the connections between Buddhist ethics and recent work in moral particularism, such as that of Jonathan Dancy, as well as the British and Scottish sentimentalist tradition represented by Hume and Smith.


Part I: Structure
1. Methodological Introduction
2. The Broad Structure of Buddhist Ethics
3. Buddhist Ethics as Moral Phenomenology
4. Agency and Action Theory
5. Narrative in Buddhist Ethics
Part II: Doctrine
6. The Four Noble Truths
7. Path as a Structure for Buddhist Ethics
8. The Six Perfections and the Bodhisattva Path
9. The Brahmavih?ras and the Achievement of Nonegocentricity
10. The Importance of Vow
Part III: Contemporary Issues
11. Naturalism
12. Engaged Buddhism
13. Coda: What Buddhist Ethics Brings to the Table

About the author: 

Jay L Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Buddhist Studies, Chair of the Philosophy department, and director of the Logic program at Smith College. He is also Visiting Professor of Buddhist Philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies. He has taught in Australia, Singapore, Japan and Germany and is a regular lecturer at major universities, Buddhist Studies centers and research institutions around the world. Professor Garfield is author, co-author, or editor of 30 books and over 180 articles and book reviews.

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