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date: 10 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews Buddhist approaches to war and violence. Because ethics is the basis by which people make choices, the chapter’s focus is not purely on scriptures, but rather on the wider field of lived choices and the doctrine that relates to such choices. Buddhists have decided to go to war and have committed various acts of violence. The chapter begins with a brief chronological overview of Buddhist-inspired conflicts, wars, and the ethical debates and decisions surrounding these events. It then addresses the ambiguous subject matter of violence. Applying the Buddhist interdiction of ahimsa (non-harm/non-injury), it reviews doctrinal and historical cases in which Buddhist doctrine or Buddhists have justified harm/injury by means of murder, torture, capital punishment, and discrimination. The chapter ends with an examination of the ways in which Buddhists respond to war and violence.

Keywords: Buddhism, war, violence, torture, capital punishment

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