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Title: A Buddhist theory of moral objectivity
Author: Ellis, Robert Michael.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3446 4493
Awarding Body: University of Lancaster
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2001
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The book presents an argument for moral objectivity based on non-dualism, drawing on the Buddhist tradition but argued from first premises in relation to Western philosophical understandings of ethics. The first part consists of a critique both of the theoretical and practical shortcomings of views of ethics which rely on positive or negative metaphysical claims about the foundation for universal ethics or about its absence. The dualism underlying these two alternatives is understood in terms of a psychological model according to which the rational ego utilises metaphysical belief to separate itself from the remainder of the psyche and its associated alternative grounds of belief. Metaphysical beliefs are shown to be related to egoistic psychological dispositions through the use of philosophical, historical, and psychological evidence, and this account used as the basis of a criticism of all the main existing ethical theories in Western philosophy. In the second part a more positive account is provided of a non-dualistic Middle Way, which attempts to show that there is an alternative to the dualism revealed in Part 1. This Middle Way unites systematic metaphysical agnosticism in philosophy with moral practice that attempts to integrate the ego incrementally with the remainder of the psyche. Psychological integration thus becomes the basis of a new way of understanding moral (and other types of) objectivity without positive or negative metaphysical assumptions. To understand integration as a basis of ethics requires the systematic incrementalisation of the dualisms on which Western philosophy habitually relies, such as subject-object, fact-value, mind-body, and freewill-determinism. Without these dualistic prior assumptions, a balanced investigation can be made into all the conditions which influence our moral judgements. Personal and group virtue can be cultivated, and specificity of guidance on areas of moral judgement where we are ignorant imported by the balanced use of moral expertise. Supporting materials for this thesis are available on and a published version is available on .
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Non dualism