Freedom From Responsibility: Agent-Neutral Consequentialism and the Bodhisattva Ideal

In Rick Repetti (ed.), Buddhist Perspectives on Free Will. New York: Routledge. pp. 92-105 (2016)
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This paper argues that influential Mahāyāna ethicists, such as Śāntideva, who allow for moral rules to be proscribed under the expediency of a compassionate aim, seriously compromise the very notion of moral responsibility. The central thesis is that moral responsibility is intelligible only in relation to conceptions of freedom and human dignity that reflect a participation in, and sharing of, interpersonal relationships. The central thesis of the paper is that revisionary strategies, which seek to explain agency in event-causal terms, set the stage for moral epiphenomenalism. On the view I defend here, an effective compatibilist solution to the problem of reconciling freedom of the will and determinism depends on expanding, rather than eliminating, the complex register of factors that underpin the experiential aspects of our moral life.
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