Theory and Comparison in the Discussion of Buddhist Ethics

Philosophy East and West 62 (1):16-43 (2012)
Abstract
Comparisons, and by that I mean the hunt for essential similarities or at least serious family resemblances, between the ethical views of Western and non-Western thinkers have been a staple of comparative philosophy for quite some time now. Some of these comparisons, such as between the views of Aristotle and Confucius, seem especially apt and revealing. However, I’ve often wondered whether Western “ethical theory”—virtue ethics, deontology, or consequentialism—is always the best lens through which to approach non-Western ethical thought. Particularly when the discussion has turned to Buddhism and Buddhist ethics, theories of this sort at best seem to have an uncertain application. This is not to say that ..
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