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Title: Freedom and ethics in Madhyamaka Buddhism
Author: Javanaud, Katie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 6254
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This research project articulates the relationship between freedom and ethics in Indian Madhyamaka. Chapter 1 provides a defence of anti-realist interpretations of Madhyamaka, the ramifications of which are felt throughout the remainder of the investigation. Chapter 2 introduces the reconstructive, cross-cultural and, at times, a-historical methodology used to explicate Madhyamaka's implied stance on issues such as free will and the naturalistic fallacy. Chapter 3 examines the suitability of 'paleo-compatibilism' as a potential solution to the Buddhist free will problem, arguing that, with some modifications, it could be viable in a Madhyamaka context. Chapter 4 investigates the similarities and differences between the Western theory of causal determinism and the Madhyamaka doctrine of dependent origination: dependency relations encompass but are not coterminous with causal relations. Chapter 5 examines 'perspectivalism,' another proposed solution to the Buddhist free will problem, but contends that it is better conceived of as a meta-theory about free will rather than as simply another theory. From chapter 6 onwards, the focus moves from 'free will' to 'freedom' of a spiritual kind. Chapter 6 seeks to negotiate the tension in Madhyamaka's conception of karma as both that which binds beings to saṃsāra and, through the accumulation of merit, as a facilitator of liberation. Chapter 7 introduces the ethical ideal of the bodhisattva figure and considers the coherence of Madhyamaka's conception of a Buddha's non-karmic moral action. Chapters 8 and 9 articulate the implied Madhyamaka view on a range of meta-ethical questions, such as whether moral sentences can be truth-apt and whether Madhyamaka can respond to accusations that it commits the naturalistic fallacy. Chapter 10 offers some concluding remarks on the value of cross-cultural philosophical engagement and summarizes this project's key findings.
Supervisor: Westerhoff, Jan Sponsor: Khyentse Foundation ; Spalding Trust ; Sloane Robinson Award ; Keble College
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Buddhism ; Philosophy ; Religious Studies