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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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Buddhist Ethics and the Demands of Consequentialism

Buddhist Ethics and the Demands of Consequentialism

Chapter:
(p.131) 7 Buddhist Ethics and the Demands of Consequentialism
Source:
Consequences of Compassion
Author(s):

Charles Goodman (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375190.003.0008

Many writers have objected that consequentialism makes extreme demands, asking more sacrifice than is reasonable and insisting that we all become moral saints. Buddhist ethicists have some interesting approaches available for responding to these concerns. They put forward a form of rule-consequentialism with two sets of rules, allowing for laity who can form close personal attachments and monastics who should focus exclusively on benefiting all beings. This arrangement might lead to better consequences than any single set of rules. This is self-effacing consequentialism with a moral elite, but set up so as not to require coercion or deception. The Buddhist conception of sainthood is genuinely appealing, far more so than the thin, humorless description offered by Wolf. Buddhism can credibly hold up an attractive ideal of moral sainthood while making space for the rest of us.

Keywords:   moral saints, consequentialism, rule-consequentialism, self-effacing, moral elite, Wolf

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