Buddhist Meta-Ethics

Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 33 (1-2):267-297 (2010-11)
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In this paper I argue for the importance of pursuing Buddhist Meta-Ethics. Most contemporary studies of the nature of Buddhist Ethics proceed in isolation from the highly sophisticated epistemological theories developed within the Buddhist tradition. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that an intimate relationship holds between ethics and epistemology in Buddhism. To show this, I focus on Damien Keown's influential virtue ethical theorisation of Buddhist Ethics and demonstrate the conflicts that arise when it is brought into dialogue with a contemporary exposition of two prominent Buddhist epistemological theories; namely, Dunne´s exposition of the views of Dharmakīrti and Candrakīrti. I highlight certain points of conflict between these ethical and epistemological theories and will argue that the resolution of this conflict requires revision (either in interpretation of theories or in the theories themselves) by all parties. I shall conclude by arguing for substantive revision to these theories via an engagement with this conflict and, in so doing, hope to exemplify some of the virtues of engaging with a meta-ethical methodology for the advancement of the respective domains of inquiry.

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Bronwyn Finnigan
Australian National University


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