The Buddhist and the Ethicist: Conversations on Effective Altruism, Engaged Buddhism, and How to Build a Better World (Paperback)

The Buddhist and the Ethicist: Conversations on Effective Altruism, Engaged Buddhism, and How to Build a Better  World By Peter Singer, Shih Chao-Hwei Cover Image

The Buddhist and the Ethicist: Conversations on Effective Altruism, Engaged Buddhism, and How to Build a Better World (Paperback)


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Eastern spirituality and utilitarian philosophy meet in these unique dialogues between a Buddhist monastic and a moral philosopher on such issues as animal welfare, gender equality, the death penalty, and more

An unlikely duo—Professor Peter Singer, a preeminent philosopher and professor of bioethics, and Venerable Shih Chao-Hwei, a Taiwanese Buddhist monastic and social activist—join forces to talk ethics in lively conversations that cross oceans, overcome language barriers, and bridge philosophies. The eye-opening dialogues collected here share unique perspectives on contemporary issues like animal welfare, gender equality, the death penalty, and more. Together, these two deep thinkers explore the foundation of ethics and key Buddhist concepts, and ultimately reveal how we can all move toward making the world a better place.
PETER SINGER, the “father of the modern animal welfare movement,” was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. An Australian philosopher and professor of bioethics, he has  contributed to more than 50 books in over 30 languages. Singer is founder of The Life You Can Save nonprofit and a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. SHIH CHAO-HWEI is a Buddhist monastic, social activist, scholar, and recent winner of the Niwano Peace Prize. A leading advocate for animal rights, a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, and a key figure in the Buddhist gender equality movement, she is also a professor at Hsuan Chuang University and the founder of Hong Shih Buddhist College.
Product Details ISBN: 9781645472179
ISBN-10: 1645472175
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication Date: December 12th, 2023
Pages: 264
Language: English
“A remarkable and historical meeting of minds between one of the greatest philosophers of our times and a leading proponent of Buddhist ethics, grounded on utilitarianism and guided by compassion and insight, which aims at preventing and relieving all kinds of suffering, whatever they might be, and doing as much good as possible to all sentient beings without discrimination.”
Matthieu Ricard, author of Altruism and A Plea for Animals

“Few things are more enlightening than good dialogue, and this engrossing conversation between a Western philosopher and an Asian Buddhist is a case in point. Their probing exploration of each other’s worldviews illuminates key concepts in the Buddhist and utilitarian traditions and reveals an underlying unity; these two schools of thought, though quite different in cultural ancestry, exhibit much commonality of purpose and spirit as they address some of life’s most important and challenging questions.”
Robert Wright, author of Why Buddhism Is True

The Buddhist and the Ethicist is a fascinating exchange between two brilliant and wide-ranging thinkers who were originally brought together because of their shared interests in animal welfare. Their conversations cover a staggering array of topics, and I truly enjoyed seeing what came out of their extremely active brains and hearts and how much they got mine going in many different directions. I guarantee you, too, will rethink some views you have on different ethical questions and will be exposed to many situations and dilemmas about which you’ve rarely or never thought. I know I’ll be returning to this valuable collection time and time again.”
Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce) and A Dog’s World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans (with Jessica Pierce)

“This gem of a book invites readers to listen in as two brilliant contemporary moral philosophers talk about what it means to be a good person and live an ethical life. The Buddhist and the Ethicist offers us a living encounter between Western and Eastern moral traditions. We have the honor of sitting in as Peter Singer, one of the West’s most innovative and influential utilitarian philosophers, and Shih Chao-Hwei, a prominent Buddhist scholar, monastic, and activist, talk some of the most contentious and significant moral issues of our time, including human-animal relations, equality, sexuality, and effective altruism. Singer and Chao-Hwei show us how to have constructive, respectful dialogue about values—a skill more vitally important now than ever before. They remind us that it is possible to begin from seemingly conflicting points of view and, through open-minded conversation, to find and expand common ground.”
Jessica Pierce, author of Who’s a Good Dog? And How to Be a Better Human

“This timely and stimulating dialogue between Professor Peter Singer and Venerable Chao-Hwei Shih takes place at the intersection between altruism and engaged Buddhism. Their many conversations through the intervening years have examined diverse and relevant social issues during the twenty-first century. Their incisive examination of ethical considerations for all life-forms, while ages old, are brought together in this book through candid discussions about ending life and killing from in utero, to euthanasia, suicide, and killing during wartime. At the same time, their dialogue integrates the crosscutting themes of women and equality, sexuality, animal rights, and more. I invite you to become a part of their dialogue through which you can revisit these topics that transcend cultures and countries.”
Sulak Sivaraksa, author, activist, and cofounder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists

“An enlightening exploration of ethics, altruism, and social justice through the engaging dialogue between a prominent philosopher and a great scholar of Buddhism. A must-read for those seeking to expand their understanding of these traditions and the pressing issues of our time.”
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, student activist, author, and engaged Buddhist

“A wonderful book that does what philosophy and religious teachings are supposed to do: challenge us to think better, to live better, and to be better.”
Ryan Holiday, podcast host and author of The Daily Stoic

“Their dialogues unfold in rigorous detail and probe rich and trenchant ethical questions. . . . Plenty of insight in these thought-provoking and challenging investigations.”
Publishers Weekly

“In this fascinating book, Singer and Chao-Hwei explore dynamic topics, including animal welfare, capital punishment, gender equality, and the foundations of both Buddhism and ethics.”

“Particularly illuminating is Chao-Hwei’s clarification of terms, often misunderstood in the West, such as karma, rebirth and nirvana, as well as the central role and nature of compassion in Buddhist ethics. For those interested in how nuanced philosophical thought can inform our daily lives and actions, this accessible meeting of minds is a good place to start.”
The Sydney Morning Herald (Non-fiction pick of the week)