40. Buddhism and Biomedical Issues

  1. Steven M. Emmanuel
  1. Damien Keown

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch40

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

How to Cite

Keown, D. (2013) Buddhism and Biomedical Issues, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch40

Author Information

  1. Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658772

Online ISBN: 9781118324004



  • bioethics;
  • biomedical issues;
  • Buddhism


Medical ethics in Buddhism involves essentially the application of the wider principles of religious ethics to problems in a more specialized field. The “Four Principles” approach can be only partially successful in the context of Buddhism. This chapter considers Buddhist view on substantive biomedical issues. The topics discussed include abortion, death and dying, brain death and organ donation, and cloning. Buddhism has had a particular interest in the analysis of stem cell research, psychology and neuroscience. Caution must be exercised when drawing conclusions about Buddhist perspectives on bioethics, as there is a risk of inadvertently superimposing Western categories on the discussion. The doctrine of karma and the belief in rebirth make Buddhism distinctive from an ethical perspective, and it is also renowned for its emphasis on benevolence and compassion and a scrupulous respect for living beings.