Professor P. D. Premasiri, professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, will give a seminar on Buddhist Ethics. Professor Premasiri has degrees from the University of Ceylon, Cambridge University in England, as well as the University of Hawai in the US, and has published extensively on Buddhist Philosophy and Buddhist Ethics.He is a guest researcher in the Department of Philosophy during the 1997 Fall semester.
Moral evil is to be found at three different levels in the human person, namely the latent, the level of inner excitation, and the level of outward bodily and verbal expression. There are three stages of moral training which progressively and systematically eliminate moral evil. They are (1) the cultivation of wholesome habits and practices, (2) the development of mental composure and (3) the development of understanding or insight. Buddhism presents a non-authoritarian attitude towards morality. Moral decision making is considered to be an autonomous activity of rational human beings. Therefore Buddhism rejects all external authority such as tradition, revelation, holy scriptures, authority of teachers etc. as valid grounds for making reasonable ethical decisions.
One fundamental criterion used in Buddhism in moral decision making is consequentialist in form. The second criterion conforms to what is generally recognized as the Golden Rule criterion. The content of Buddhist morality is largely determined by the two above mentioned criteria. Evil in the moral sense is considered in Buddhism as rooted in greed, hatred and ignorance. These inner unwholesome traits express themselves in unwholesome bodily, verbal and mental behaviour. Morality consists of abstaining from unwholesome modes of behaviour and positively cultivating wholesome modes of behaviour. The fundamental principles involved in moral development are the cultivation of (1) non-maleficence, (2) benevolent attitudes and modes of behaviour and (3) a sense of impartiality and justice.
Buddhist ethical values are not outmoded by contemporary developments in science and technology. In fact they seem to have become even more relevant in the contemporary global context. It has the basic principles for a sound environmental ethics. Buddhism recognizes the importance of the moral foundations for a satisfactory economic, political and social order and presents certain basic principles which can be seen as universally valid. It offers a system of ethics that suits the modern age of science and technology.
The WHO South East Asian Regional Office (SEARO) has funded a two year program in health care ethics in the region. A number of activities will be carried out in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The program builds on the experience of the Bergen-Colombo collaboration in medical ethics, and the training workshops organized as part of this collaboration. The aims of the program are:
Bibliography on equity and health policy
An annotated bibliography on ethics and health policy has been compiled. It is available on the WEB:
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