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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
buddhadharma| 73 |spring 2008 these days it is in vogue to look to world religions for their wisdom on environmental matters. christians are writing about stewardship ethics; Jewish scholars offer commentaries on eco-kosher and shabat; hindus are dis- cussing the implications of ahimsa, or nonharming. Buddhists, too, are review- ing their texts and traditions for resources to guide us through the conundrums of twenty-first-century environmental koans. Pragati sahni’s contribution to the field is motivated in part by this project. in her new book, Environmental Ethics in Bud- dhism, she takes up the early Buddhist Stephanie kaZa iS a pRofeSSoR of enviRonmental StudieS at the univeRSity of veRmont. She iS alSo coeditoR of dharMa rain: sources of BuddhisT enVironMenTalisM and editoR of hooked! BuddhisT WriTings on greed, desire and The urge To consuMe (both by Shambhala publicationS). the virtue of green enviROnmental etHiCS in BuDDHiSm: a virtues approach By Pragati Sahni Routledge, 2007 224 pages; $150 (hardcover) Reviewed by Stephanie kaza literature in the Pali canon and makes the case for a virtue ethics approach to pro- tecting nature. the book is written and organized fol- lowing the guidelines for a typical doc- toral thesis in the humanities and is thick with endnote citations, methodological statements, and extensive background information. sahni studied with damien keown, one of the foremost scholars of Buddhist ethics, completing her degree from Goldsmiths, University of london, in 2003. she is currently a lecturer in the philosophy department at the Univer- sity of delhi and has academic interests in environmental philosophy and Bud- dhist ethics. this book is her first major work in the field of Buddhist ethics, and it reflects an upcoming scholar’s interests in applying classic Buddhist literature to modern dilemmas. sahni builds her thesis in a logical progression of chapters, beginning with a taxonomy of some of the current litera- ture in Buddhist environmental thought. she then looks at several Western defini- tions of “nature” to define the scope of her discourse and compares these to ideas of nature in Buddhist texts. reviewing several possible approaches to an envi- ronmental ethic, she argues for a virtue ethics based in core Buddhist principles and views. Virtue ethics emphasizes the role of character in moral choice-making as opposed to following set rules (deon- tology) or evaluating the consequences of actions (consequentialism). evidence for the proposal is taken from the early texts, including the nikayas, the Abhidhamma, the Agganna Sutta creation story, and the Jataka tales. the strength of her thesis lies in its well-defined scope and its scholarly gianpaolopagni