Tag Archives: Humanism

Moral Complexity and the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Buddhism – Part 2 of 5

This is the second part of a five-part essay comparing and contrasting the moral systems of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl with regard to how well (or poorly) their respective moral systems fare against morally complex situations.


The Dalai Lama’s Moral System (based on Tibetan Buddhism)

We can categorize the Dalai Lama’s moral system as one that is deontological in nature. Deontological ethics, recall, has two key interpretations. One interpretation defines deontological ethics as a method that helps us to understand what is morally required, forbidden, and permissible in a particular situation or event. Morally required actions, insofar as they are completed, are morally good; these are often referred to as obligations or duties. Morally forbidden actions, however, ought to be avoided and are morally bad. Morally permissible actions, then, are neither morally good nor morally bad; they are either morally void or morally neutral actions.

A second interpretation defines deontological ethics as a method that focuses on whether or not specific and explicit moral rules or principles were followed in completing a particular action or set of actions. Deontological ethics then uses these specific and explicit moral rules and principles to determine the moral worth of an action or set of actions (henceforth referred to as ‘set’). If the specific moral rule or principle is observed during the action or ‘set,’ then the action or ‘set’ can be said to be morally good. If the specific moral rule or principle is not observed during the action or ‘set,’ however, then the action or ‘set’ is morally bad.

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The Incompatible Properties Argument(s) by T.M. Drange

[This article was originally published by Dr. Theodore Drange in Philo 1998 (2), pp. 49-60. It has been re-purposed here, eliminating most of Drange’s accompanying comments to anticipated objections. The intention here is just to provide the outlines of his argument(s) in their logical form(s) and promote awareness of the argument’s overall strength.]

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Atheological arguments (arguments for the nonexistence of God) can be divided into two main groups. One group consists of arguments which aim to show an incompatibility between two of God’s properties. Let us call those “incompatible-properties arguments.” The other group consists of arguments which aim to show an incompatibility between God’s existence and the nature of the world. They may be called “God-vs.-world arguments.” A prime example of one of those would be the Evidential Argument from Evil. This paper will only survey arguments in the first group. Arguments in the second group are discussed elsewhere.[1]

To generate incompatible-properties arguments, it would be most helpful to have a list of divine attributes. I suggest the following. God is:

(a) perfect                       (g) personal

(b) immutable                (h) free

(c) transcendent            (i) all-loving

(d) nonphysical              (j) all-just

(e) omniscient                (k) all-merciful

(f) omnipresent              (l) the creator of the universe

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