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date: 24 May 2022

Abstract and Keywords

When applied in population-level contexts, such as schools or business, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) find themselves in a crossfire between two different kinds of criticisms. On one side, some worry that MBIs’ normative commitments might be “too thick,” worrying that MBIs might come with a particular conception of the good, and significant ethical and religious commitments. On the other side, some worry that contemporary MBIs are ethically “too thin,” as they shed too many of their original Buddhist ethical and soteriological goals. In this chapter, it is argued that contemporary MBIs should remain normatively thin, as that makes them more suitable for population-level contexts. Against “thickness worries,” it is argued that MBIs are compatible with liberal respect for autonomy, as the benefits are often autonomy-enhancing, which makes MBIs potentially valuable across a broad range of conceptions of the good. The second line of argument is developed through a discussion of MBIs in schools.

Keywords: mindfulness-based interventions, mindfulness, schools, liberalism, autonomy

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