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date: 21 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Of all the Buddhist teachers whose writings have come down to us, only Śāntideva has yet been shown to have engaged in sustained, general theoretical reflection about ethics. Śāntideva offers a radical critique of the rationality of most emotions, similar in some ways to that of the Stoics. His overall view has important similarities with utilitarianism; and he offers philosophical arguments for a distinctively utilitarian form of impartiality. Śāntideva quotes scriptures that make hyperbolic and implausible claims about the relative value of different practices; it may be possible to interpret these passages in terms of the lexical priority of some values over others. He also tells us that the various Buddhist virtues reinforce and sustain each other. These claims could be used to construct a homeostatic cluster view of well-being.

Keywords: Śāntideva, Śikṣā-samuccaya, Buddhist ethics, utilitarianism, impartiality, well-being, animals

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