Retributive karma and the problem of blaming the victim
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- Burley, M. Int J Philos Relig (2013) 74: 149. doi:10.1007/s11153-012-9376-z
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A defining feature of retributive conceptions of karma is their regarding of suffering or misfortune as consequent upon sins committed in previous lives. Some critical non-believers in karma take offence at this view, considering it to involve unjustly blaming the victim. Defenders of the view demur, and argue that a belief in retributive karma in fact provides a motivation for benevolent action. This article elucidates the debate, showing that its depth is such that it is best characterized as a disagreement in form of life (in Wittgenstein’s sense) rather than as a disagreement in opinions. Also briefly discussed is an example of a non-retributive form that belief in karma and reincarnation can take.