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date: 24 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Buddhism posits a basic equality of sentient beings as faced with suffering and in need of liberation. It also regards humans in particular as having a precious kind of rebirth with great potential for liberation in spite of their different karmic backgrounds. Respect for others is seen in the reflection, ‘For a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that on another?’ (SN V.353–354; Harvey 2000: 33–34). This is given as a reason for not inflicting wrong action or wrong speech on others. This chapter discusses Buddhist ideals on good social relationships and the good governance of society, in which a government should seek to prevent poverty, punish crime in a way that is reform-orientated and compassionate yet effective, and sets an ethical example. It includes a discussion of attitudes to capital punishment, democracy, and the extent to which the law should encode ethics.

Keywords: economic justice, equality, right speech, right livelihood, good government, welfare, democracy, punishment, morality and the law

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