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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
77 spring 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Reviews With Consequences of Compassion, Charles Goodman makes a compelling argument about the exact nature of Buddhist ethics, especially as set forth by Shantideva in the eighth century and other thinkers in the Mahayana tradition, and how it compares to Western philosophical ethics. Along the way he addresses many issues that contemporary Buddhists have wondered about, such as the ethical ramifications of the doctrine of no-self, the relationship between compas- sion and rules of conduct, acceptable violations of the precepts, karma and free will, Buddhist views of responsibility and punishment, and whether Theravada Buddhism is as individualistic as Mahayana polemicists have made it out to be. After providing overviews of key Buddhist teachings and the three main approaches in Western philosophical ethics—consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics—Goodman dives into his central argument: Buddhist ethics is most similar to consequentialism. Originating in the thought of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, consequen- tialism argues that the right action in a given situation is generally the one that leads to the greatest net increase in happiness of the greatest number of people. Goodman cHRIsToPHeR IVes is a professor of religion at stonehill college, focusing on modern Zen ethics. He is the author of Imperial-Way Zen. By Charles goodman oxford University press 2009 $74; 264 pages (hardcover) reviewed by Christopher ives ConseQUenCes oF Compassion an interpretation and defense of Buddhist ethics THe gReaTesT goodness for the gReaTesT nUmBeR