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Consequences of CompassionAn Interpretation and Defense of Buddhist Ethics$
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Charles Goodman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195375190

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375190.001.0001

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A Buddhist Response to Kant

A Buddhist Response to Kant

(p.197) 11 A Buddhist Response to Kant
Consequences of Compassion

Charles Goodman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Recent interpreters of Kant, such as Wood and Korsgaard, have identified several powerful arguments that purport to refute all ethical theories other than Kant’s own. But Buddhists have the resources to respond to these arguments. They can block the regress to humanity as an end by rejecting Kant’s criticisms of the intrinsic value of happiness. Kant argues that autonomous self-legislation is the only possible source of moral obligation. But Kant’s views depend on regarding the rational mind as an autonomous self, an indefensible attitude. Buddhists present an ethical perspective that does not involve autonomy or a self. Wood’s transcendental argument for the necessity of seeing ourselves as free is a failure. And Korsgaard’s arguments for the practical necessity of the idea of freedom apply only to ordinary people, and not to advanced spiritual practitioners, who have access to a better state that doesn’t involve constructing an identity.

Keywords:   Wood, Kant, Korsgaard, intrinsic value, autonomy, self, transcendental argument, identity, moral obligation

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