Buddhism addresses a wide variety of issues that fall within the traditional philosophical categories of ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Buddhist ethics, a burgeoning field within Buddhist studies, aims to identify the different ethical and metaethical positions advanced in Buddhist texts, and evaluate them in light of contemporary discourse. Researchers in the mainstream of philosophy and psychology have begun to appreciate the promise of Buddhist ethical discourse—from Buddhist metaphysical accounts of the nature of the person and freedom, to their psychological accounts of attention training and emotional regulation. Moreover, with the occidental surge of popular interest in Buddhism, Western teachers and practitioners have recently started to refine their understanding of Buddhist ethics in light of current philosophical and empirical approaches to morality. This conference, entitled Contemporary Perspectives on Buddhist Ethics, aims to advance both of these projects through constructive transdisciplinary dialogue.
This event comes out of an ongoing series of groundbreaking dialogues, in the Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy, which initially began with a multidisciplinary conference on human consciousness entitled “Mind & Reality.” It features two days of panel discussions that will be convened in the historic rotunda within Low Library on the campus of Columbia University. Panel topics address provocative questions concerning the naturalization of Buddhist ethics, the nature of Buddhist ethical theory, the function of Buddhist narrative literature, the application of Buddhist ethics to social issues, the moral psychology of Buddhism, and free-will. The keynote speakers are Karl H. Potter, Damien Keown, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong.