Buddhism, Ethics, and the Good Life

Buddhism, Ethics, and the Good Life : A Comparative Introduction

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Buddhism contains many important and novel ethical ideas and arguments, from the centrality of suffering to the ideas of the 'no-self' and rebirth. It also includes ideas shared with certain Western ethical theories, such as the importance of character and moral knowledge. However, the two traditions are rarely placed in accessible comparative perspective. Buddhism, Ethics and the Good Life: A Comparative Introduction examines both key Western and Buddhist moral concepts via two key questions: can we achieve moral or ethical knowledge? Can we achieve freedom by acting morally or ethically?

Brad Cokelet uses the following important topics to unpack and weigh up competing Western and Buddhist theories of ethics and morality:

Aristotle's arguments concerning virtue, the good life and the objectivity of moral values
Kant's deontological theories of morality and the good life, and the argument that pure reason as opposed to virtue is the key to moral knowledge and action
the Existentialist argument that there are no moral facts and that morality cannot be grounded in standard philosophical theories of human nature
the Buddhist view that ignorance is the root of immorality and that true moral knowledge and freedom is grounded in metaphysical knowledge of the nature of reality, as opposed to knowledge of moral facts, actions or character traits
criticisms of the Buddhist view including the 'no-self' and how Buddhists make sense of moral responsibility and agency; the idea of re-birth and karma.

Essential ethical concepts and theories are introduced and explained throughout, including realism, relativism, objectivity, practical wisdom, obligation, agency, and bad faith. A key feature of the book is that it places three major Western moral theories - Aristotelian, Kantian and Existentialist - in comparison with Buddhist theories, helping the reader identify strengths and weaknesses in both approaches. It also includes examples from the ethics of war, punishment, euthanasia, stoicism and mindfulness to help clarify more abstract moral arguments.

The addition of chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary make this a refreshing, approachable alternative to traditional introductions to ethics and ideal for those studying comparative ethics, in both philosophy and religious studies.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 159 x 235mm
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 1138918741
  • 9781138918740

Table of contents


Character-based Realism

Character-based Freedom and Virtue

Constructive Knowledge: Enlightenment Within the Reach of All

Constructive Freedom and Virtue

Scepticism about Ethical Knowledge

Existential Freedom: No Way Out

Appropriating Buddhism

The Buddhist Connections: Knowledge, Virtue, Freedom

Making Buddhism a Live Option

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About Bradford Cokelet

Bradford Cokelet is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami, USA
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