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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The three main ethical theories in Western philosophy can be used as a framework from which to bring out the features of Buddhist ethics; hermeneutical questions regarding the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of comparison; a consideration of Buddhist ethics as virtue ethics, centring around the notions of practices, narratives, and traditions, as proposed by MacIntyre, including a discussion of relativism in the context of naturalism, the fact/value gap, and cognitivism/non-cognitivism; a critique of consequentialism including a discussion of Goodman and Singer on altruism and compassion, agent-neutrality, and personhood, especially the bodhisattva-ideal; a critique of deontology that argues that there are no moral absolutes, and that only the wise can establish in a particular situation what is right, that is, what leads to a more awakened state. Conclusion: a discussion of why it is fruitful to see Buddhist ethics as a member of the family of (neo-Aristotelian) virtue ethical theories.

Keywords: virtue ethics, deontology, consequentialism, fact/value, cognitivism, naturalism, MacIntyre, Aristotle, altruism, agent-neutrality

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