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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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Buddhism on Moral Responsibility

Buddhism on Moral Responsibility

(p.145) 8 Buddhism on Moral Responsibility
Consequences of Compassion

Charles Goodman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Although Buddhist texts don’t explicitly discuss the problem of free will, they stake out a number of theoretical views that commit them to a certain answer to this problem. Buddhist texts clearly present both the universal causality and predictability in principle forms of determinism, and they reject the agent causation necessary for most forms of libertarianism. They also reject the appropriateness and reasonableness of participant reactive attitudes such as anger and resentment. Although having, or appearing to have, some of these attitudes might sometimes be helpful, feeling them always involves delusion. As a result, we should understand the entire Indian Buddhist tradition as committed to hard determinism. Some have objected that hard determinism denounces attitudes that we are in fact unable to abandon. But through meditation practice, Buddhists hold that we can eliminate anger and resentment, resulting in a better, gentler way to live that is also more theoretically defensible.

Keywords:   free will, determinism, libertarianism, participant reactive attitudes, agent causation, hard determinism, resentment, universal causality

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