Hunger is the worst disease: conceptions of poverty and poverty relief in Buddhist social ethics

Monson, Jason McLeod (2013) Hunger is the worst disease: conceptions of poverty and poverty relief in Buddhist social ethics. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The present work addresses the notions of poverty and poverty relief in Buddhist social and economic ethics, comparing them to current approaches to conceptualizing poverty used in the development community. Given the Buddhist preoccupation with ceasing suffering and removing its causes, and the key Buddhist principle of Right Livelihood that is found in the Ennobling Eightfold Path to enlightenment taught by the Buddha, economic ethics appear to be central to the Buddhist path and a concern for the suffering caused by extreme poverty therefore ought to be a key point of concern in Buddhist ethics. Buddhist ethics has developed into a field of study all its own over the last few decades, addressing issues in applied ethics from bioethics to human rights and environmental concerns, but little has been written by virtually any standard on the important topic of poverty relief. The present work makes a step toward filling that gap by examining relevant passages in the Pāli Canon as well as popular and influential Mahāyāna sūtras to demonstrate that a concern for deprivation or non-voluntary impoverishment is evident in key Buddhist doctrines and teachings from the earliest recorded history of the Buddhist tradition. The thesis further discusses the duties to relieve poverty outlined in Buddhist social ethics as well as the development of Buddhist economics and its critique of dominant mainstream economics. It also offers a comparison of Buddhist conceptions of poverty with contemporary notions of poverty, such as the capabilities approach to poverty developed by Amartya Sen and currently in use by the UNDP. In both of these cases poverty is portrayed in a comprehensive and multi-dimmensional manner which views income as only one aspect of poverty. Additionally, this dissertation examines the contemporary Socially Engaged Buddhist movement and identifies historical and contemporary examples of Buddhist poverty relief efforts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Reviewed by Prof. Peter Harvey (Sunderland University) and Mr. Leon Robinson (University of Glasgow).
Keywords: Religion, Applied Ethics, Buddhism, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Buddhist Economics, Global Poverty, Poverty Relief, International Development.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Clague, Ms. Julie and Schmidt-Leukel, Prof. Perry
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Jason McLeod Monson
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4643
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2013 09:01
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2017 10:50

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