Retributive karma and the problem of blaming the victim

A defining feature of retributive conceptions of karma is their regarding of suffering or misfortune as consequent upon sins committed in previous lives. Some critical non-believers in karma take offence at this view, considering it to involve unjustly blaming the victim. Defenders of the view demur, and argue that a belief in retributive karma in fact provides a motivation for benevolent action. This article elucidates the debate, showing that its depth is such that it is best characterized as a disagreement in form of life (in Wittgenstein’s sense) rather than as a disagreement in opinions. Also briefly discussed is an example of a non-retributive form that belief in karma and reincarnation can take.
Keywords Karma  Reincarnation  Blaming the victim  Arvind Sharma  Ludwig Wittgenstein  Hinduism  Buddhism
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DOI 10.1007/s11153-012-9376-z
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Mikel Burley (2014). Karma, Morality, and Evil. Philosophy Compass 9 (6):415-430.
Ankur Barua (2015). Revisiting the Rationality of Reincarnation Talk. International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 76 (3):218-231.

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Rajendra Prasad (1989). Karma, Causation and Retributive Morality: Conceptual Essays in Ethics and Metaethics. Indian Council of Philosophical Research in Association with Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi.
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