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Moral dilemmas of Buddhism on animal suffering

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Buddha’s fundamental philosophy mainly addresses the issue of suffering and the ways of preventing suffering in life. Accordingly, his commendable stance on the protection of animals is underpinned on the concept of the spiritual interconnection between humans and animals because of the transmigration of consciousness. Yet, the human incarnation is superior because enlightenment can be achieved only in this form. Ironically, however, the Buddhists moral canons can also potentially cause troubles for animal lives. This inconsistency is reflected in the latitude given in cases of unintentional himsā (violence) and the notion of the segregation of animals from humans. This hierarchy allows use of animals which implies human centric attitude. This paper aims to (a) critically analyse the Buddhist positions on animals by considering both the positive and negative aspects; and (b) demonstrate the incompatibility between the doctrine of ahimsā and the positing of a hierarchy between humans and animals.
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Keywords: ahimsā; animals; compassion; exploitation; killing; suffering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Bangalore Central University, Bangalore, India

Publication date: July 3, 2019

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