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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Engaged Buddhists typically voice strong support for human rights, but not everyone is persuaded that Western concepts like ‘rights’ and ‘human rights’ are compatible with Buddhist teachings. While globalization has weakened claims that ‘Asian values’ are radically distinctive, the suspicion lingers that human rights are a ‘Trojan horse’ for hegemonic Western values. Fears are also expressed that the individualism implicit in ‘rights’ promotes egocentricity and conflict rather than selflessness and social cohesion. Here we explore first the conceptual compatibility of human rights with Buddhist teachings, before considering some proposed doctrinal foundations. The conclusion will suggest a way of grounding these different proposals in a common foundation.

Keywords: rights, anti-foundationalism, duty, autonomy, human dignity, Buddha-nature, compassion, sentimentalism

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