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Profile: Bronwyn Finnigan (Australian National University)
  1. Buddhism and Animal Ethics.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (7):1-12.
    This article provides a philosophical overview of some of the central Buddhist positions and argument regarding animal welfare. It introduces the Buddha's teaching of ahiṃsā or non-violence and rationally reconstructs five arguments from the context of early Indian Buddhism that aim to justify its extension to animals. These arguments appeal to the capacity and desire not to suffer, the virtue of compassion, as well as Buddhist views on the nature of self, karma, and reincarnation. This article also considers how versions (...)
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  2.  47
    Is Consciousness Reflexively Self-Aware?Bronwyn Finnigan - forthcoming - Ratio.
    This article examines contemporary Buddhist defences of the idea that consciousness is reflexively aware or self-aware. Call this the Self-Awareness Thesis. A version of this thesis was historically defended by Dignāga but rejected by Prāsaṅgika Mādhyamika Buddhists. Prāsaṅgikas invoke a distinction between two truths or realities; they deny an ultimate reality but admit the use of conventional frameworks. This article asks whether some contemporary account can withstand Prāsaṅgika critique and be accepted as conventionally true. It analyses the commitments of contemporary (...)
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  3.  24
    Śāntideva and the Moral Psychology of Fear.Bronwyn Finnigan - forthcoming - In Douglas Duckworth & Jonathan Gold (eds.), Readings of the Introduction to Bodhisattva Practice. Columbia University Press.
    Buddhists consider fear to be a root of suffering. In Chapters 2 and 7 of the Bodhicaryāvatāra, Śāntideva provides a series of provocative verses aimed at inciting fear to motivate taking refuge in the Bodhisattvas and thereby achieve fearlessness. This article aims to analyze the moral psychology involved in this transition. It will structurally analyze fear in terms that are grounded in, and expand upon, an Abhidharma Buddhist analysis of mind. It will then contend that fear, taking refuge, and fearlessness (...)
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  4. Madhyamaka Buddhist Meta-Ethics: The Justificatory Grounds of Moral Judgments.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2015 - Philosophy East and West 65 (3):765-785.
    In recent decades, several attempts have been made to characterize Buddhism as a systematically unified and consistent normative ethical theory. This has given rise to a growing interest in meta-ethical questions. Meta-ethics can be broadly or narrowly defined. Defined broadly, it is a domain of inquiry concerned with the nature and status of the fundamental or framing presuppositions of normative ethical theories, where this includes the cognitive and epistemic requirements of presupposed conceptions of ethical agency.1 Defined narrowly, it concerns the (...)
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  5. Examining the Bodhisattva's Brain.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2014 - Zygon 49 (1):231-241.
    Owen Flanagan's The Bodhisattva's Brain aims to introduce secular-minded thinkers to Buddhist thought and motivate its acceptance by analytic philosophers. I argue that Flanagan provides a compelling caution against the hasty generalizations of recent “science of happiness” literature, which correlates happiness with Buddhism on the basis of certain neurological studies. I contend, however, that his positive account of Buddhist ethics is less persuasive. I question the level of engagement with Buddhist philosophical literature and challenge Flanagan's central claim, that a Buddhist (...)
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  6. Buddhist Idealism.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2017 - In Tyron Goldschmidt & Kenneth Pearce (eds.), Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. pp. 178-199.
    This article surveys some of the most influential Buddhist arguments in defense of idealism. It begins by clarifying the central theses under dispute and rationally reconstructs arguments from four major Buddhist figures in defense of some or all of these theses. It engages arguments from Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā and Triṃśikā; Dignāga’s matching-failure argument in the Ālambanaparīkṣā; the sahopalambhaniyama inference developed by Dharmakīrti; and Xuanzang’s weird but clever logical argument that intrigued philosophers in China and Japan. It aims to clarify what is (...)
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  7. Madhyamaka Ethics.Bronwyn Finnigan - forthcoming - In Daniel Cozort & James Mark Shields (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    There are two main loci of contemporary debate about the nature of Madhyamaka ethics. The first investigates the general issue of whether the Madhyamaka philosophy of emptiness is consistent with a commitment to systematic ethical distinctions. The second queries whether the metaphysical analysis of no-self presented by Śāntideva in his Bodhicaryāvatāra entails the impartial benevolence of a bodhisattva. This article will critically examine these debates and demonstrate the ways in which they are shaped by competing understandings of Madhyamaka conventional truth (...)
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  8. Buddhist Meta-Ethics.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2010-11 - Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 33 (1-2):267-297.
    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 (...)
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  9. Don't Think! Just Act!Bronwyn Finnigan & Koji Tanaka - 2010 - In Graham Priest & Damon Young (eds.), Philosophy and the Martial Arts. Open Court.
    Kenzo saw a slight movement of his opponent. “Now is the time to strike!” he thought. He started moving. But before he had time to raise his shinai (sword) he was struck on the men (head) by his opponent. “Ippon!” the judge called.
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  10.  60
    The Nature of a Buddhist Path.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2017 - In Jake H. Davis (ed.), A Mirror is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 33-52.
    Is there a ‘common element’ in Buddhist ethical thought from which one might rationally reconstruct a Buddhist normative ethical theory? While many agree that there is such an element, there is disagreement about whether it is best reconstructed in terms that approximate consequentialism or virtue ethics. This paper will argue that two distinct evaluative relations underlie these distinct positions; an instrumental and constitutive analysis. It will raise some difficulties for linking these distinct analyses to particular normative ethical theories but will (...)
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  11.  62
    Review of Dan Arnold's "Brains, Buddhas, and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind". [REVIEW]Bronwyn Finnigan - 2015 - Journal of Religion 95 (1):143-146.
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