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Buddhism and Political Theory$
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Matthew J. Moore

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190465513

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190465513.001.0001

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Buddhism, Naturalistic Ethics, and Politics

Buddhism, Naturalistic Ethics, and Politics

Chapter:
(p.112) 6 Buddhism, Naturalistic Ethics, and Politics
Source:
Buddhism and Political Theory
Author(s):

Matthew J. Moore

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190465513.003.0007

This chapter argues that the moral/ethical system of early Buddhism is best understood as being both naturalistic and irrealist/antirealist. It is naturalistic because it excludes all supernatural forces and explains morality/ethics in terms of natural facts. It is irrealist/antirealist because it consists of hypothetical imperatives (advice for how to achieve optional goals) rather than categorical imperatives (obligations binding on all rational beings). The chapter examines both primary texts and contemporary scholarship. It then argues that the Buddhist theory of ethics is very similar to the immanence/immanentist theory of William Connolly, and that such theories may be uniquely helpful in creating stable political cooperation in pluralistic societies.

Keywords:   Buddhism, ethics, morality, immanence, immanentist ethics, William Connolly, hypothetical imperative, ethical naturalism

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