Bhagavad Gītā II: Metaethical Controversies (Ethics1, M09)

In A. Raghuramaraju (ed.), Philosophy, E-PG Pathshala. Delhi: India, Department of Higher Education (NMEICT) (2016)
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Abstract
In the previous module we examined the dialectic that Krishna initiates in the Bhagavad Gītā. Arjuna’s despondency and worry about the war he must fight is captured in his own words by teleological concerns – consequentialism and virtue theoretic considerations. In the face of a challenge, a teleological approach results in the paradox of teleology---namely, the more we are motivated by exceptional and unusual ends, the less likely we are to pursue our ends given a low expected utility. Krishna's solution is to switch to a procedural ethics. To this extent, Krishna identifies three ethical theories. Two were discussed extensively in the earlier chapter on the Gītā. The first is basic deontology, called karma yoga. This states that we should choose to do our duty without appealing to the outcome as a justification. The duties in question are definable by good outcomes, but the outcomes do not constitute the reason for embracing duty. The second, spoken about at length, is bhakti yoga. According to this, the right thing to do is to worship the ideal by our actions. This practice results in us improving our skill and practice such that we come to liberate ourselves from fault and instantiate the ideal itself. The third is the Gītā’s metaethical theory—conceptual account of the right and the good. This is called “jñāna yoga.” This module focuses on the metaethical dimensions of the Gītā.
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