With responses from Charles Goodman (Binghamton University)
"Buddhism and Free Will""
The aim of this discussion will be to look at the philosophical concepts of free-will and liberation in varying Buddhist orders. I will argue that there are three distinct concepts of free will and liberation in Buddhism.
First, Buddhists reject the idea that individuals are constrained by a divine power or material causality. Second, Buddhists argue that unethical actions are the direct result of mental states governed by anger/hatred, jealousy/attachment, and ignorance/fear. For instance, Shantideva asserts that we can no more blame someone — under the influence of such mental states — than we can blame fire for causing smoke. And third, in the Mahayana tradition, the same determinist attitude does not apply to "selfless" actions, which spontaneously spring from one’s own enlightened nature.
In my presentation I will outline the philosophical grounds for the aforementioned views. I will explore their implications within Buddhist thought, and I will flesh out what contributions I believe these ideas can make to the discipline of philosophy.