Mindfulness and the psychology of ethical dogmatism

Journal of Buddhist Ethics 28:233-269 (2018)
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Abstract

Motivated by recent controversies concerning the relationship between modern mindfulness-based interventions and Buddhism, this article discusses the relationship between mindfulness and dogmatism in general, and dogmatism in ethics in particular. The point of view taken is primarily that of the psychology of judgment and deci-sion making: Various cognitive illusions affect the feelings of righteousness and certainty that tend to accompany ethical and moral judgments. I argue that even though there is some evidence that mindfulness practice im-proves judgment and decision making, thisimprovement is rarely as strong as is implied in various contributions to the above-mentioned controversies. In addition, I reflect on claims that “the original teachings of the Buddha” jus-tify the moral stances taken. I argue that these stances likely arise, at least in part, due to the cultural transmission of cognitive dissonance of early Christianity rather than being inherent in the Buddha’s teachings.

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