[Buddha-l] Re: [Karma and ethics [was: angels]

Randall Jones rjones at cm.ksc.co.th
Fri May 27 19:51:26 MDT 2005

Richard Hayes writes:

>My own prejudice, just to get it out on the table, is that one is best 
>advised simply to
>describe what Buddhists had to say

Are Buddhists not still saying?

>about karma and to forget about
>trying to put it into one or another of the categories (eudaemonian,
>deontological, utilitarian, situational, etc) that have been used to
>describe ethical theories in the West.

Sometimes, I think description is just not enough . . . especially when I'm 
trying to figure out what to do.  Or what I think collectivities should 
do--for example, when thinking about government policy, say policies 
regarding the allocation of scarce resourcesa such as medicine or oil--and 
I do think this stuff is worth thinking about.

And it does seem to me that there is something "consequentialist" (to use a 
term from western ethics) about (my naive understanding of) Buddhism.  And 
for many reasons I'm not happy with consequentialism, though it's true my 
main unhappiness is probably because it doesn't feel good to me (I guess 
you could substitute "right" for "good"--and that is telling).

So what would be misguided in making use of Western discussions or 
critiques of consequentialism and so forth in a Buddhist's (and therefore 
Buddhist I would think) consideration of what to do or at least of how to 
think about what to do?

Lately I'm looking again at communicative ethics (toward which I lean), and 
right speech.  Mistake?

Randall Jones
rjones at cm.ksc.co.th

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