Buddhist Ethics

Spring 2011

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-58  |  Religion, as RELI-27; Maria R. Heim (Section 01)

Questions about research in this course? Contact Michael Kasper.

  • Overview
  • Databases
  • Reference
  • Web Resources
  • Citing Sources


 One of the best places to start research is in the computerized Five-College Library Catalog. All books are listed by their AUTHORS (last name first), TITLES (drop initial articles "the", "a", "an"), and SUBJECTS, and you can also use the KEYWORD function to search.
KEYWORD searching is not likely to yield a complete, or completely relevant, list of locally-owned books on any particular topic, but it's a good way to start; type in a common language characterization of your topic, say "hindu and buddhist ethics", select titles from the resulting list that interest you, note which official subject headings are assigned to those titles, then click on them to do a more thorough SUBJECT search.
SUBJECT searching, as such, requires that you use the exact words or phrases libraries have chosen to describe your topic; for example, libraries list books that treat different religions' approaches to moral issues  under "Religious ethics--Comparative studies". Inputting that phrase as a "subject begins with" search will yield the most relevant results.  Ask at the Reference Desk if you're not sure what words or phrases to use.

Databases: Find articles, book chapters, e-books

ATLA Religion Database (1949 to present)

Bibliography of Asian Studies (1973 to present)
Index to articles and books in Asian Studies, including humanities and social sciences.

Philosopher's Index (1940 to present)

Academic Search Premier (date coverage varies)
Full-text articles from over 3,600 journals in the social sciences, arts and humanities, and sciences.


  Printed and computerized indexes and bibliographies provide citations to journal articles which may or may not be owned by the Amherst College Library. To find out if and where we have a backfile of a particular journal, you must look up each journal title (not article titles or authors) in the Library Catalog. Be attentive to volume numbers and dates since sometimes we've started or stopped a subscription in the middle of a run.
  Please note: some older volumes of journals may be housed in the Amherst College Depository, an off-campus storage facility. You can request volumes from the Depository by filling out a brief form which appears onscreen when you select 'Request Forms' from the Library Homepage, then click on 'Depository'; materials will be delivered to the Circulation Desk in Frost the next weekday.
   More and more journals are offering full-texts in electronic form; those we subscribe to are linked to records in the online Library Catalog and/or you can search for electronic versions using the Journal Locator, (click here or in the Quick Search box, above). Also, when using most electronic indexes (like Philosopher's Index), a button labeled 'AC Links' permits you to search automatically for electronic versions of articles you find cited; if the Library does not have access to an electronic version, 'AC Links' will automatically search for a print-format version of the journal in the Library Catalog.


Encyclopedia of Religion
Over 3,000 articles written by leading scholars. Standard reference work on religions.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Scholarly entries on all aspects of philosophy.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Scholarly surveys of all aspects of philosophy.

Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Standard general encyclopedia.

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas


Print-format Sources

Encyclopedia of Buddhism. New York, Macmillan Reference, 2004. 2  volumes.
  A print-format encyclopedia with short and slightly longer entries on terminology, themes, individuals, and events in Buddhist studies, most of which have minimal  bibliographies appended. (Ref BQ 128 E62 2004)

A Companion to Philosophy of Religion. Cambridge MA, Blackwell, 1997.
  A one-volume collection of ten-page essays on the intersections of the world's major religious traditions with philosophy, most of which have brief bibliographies appended. (Ref BL 51 C634 1997)

Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion. Washington DC, Congressional Quarterly, 1998. 2 volumes.
  Short entries on places, topics, specific religions' approaches, etc. (Ref BL 65 P7 E534 1998)

Encyclopedia of Religion and War. New York & London, Routledge, 2004.
  A hodge-podge of interesting, short articles, including half a dozen on war as it relates to different Buddhist traditions. (Ref BL 80.3 E53 2004)

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. San Diego, Academic Press, 1998. 4 volumes.
  A printed, multi-volume encyclopedia with 5- to 20-page essays, most of which have bibliographies appended. (Ref BJ 63 E44 1998)

Encyclopedia of Ethics. New York & London, Routledge, 2001. Second edition. 3 volumes.
  Another printed encyclopedia, with briefer entries and a slightly broader focus than the above title. (Ref BJ 63 E45 2001)


  Depending on your chosen topic, there may be other relevant encyclopedias in the Reference Collection that can get you oriented and provide pointers for further research, like the Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change (Ref GE 149 E443 2002), the International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family (Ref HQ 9 E52 2003), Sex and Sexuality (Ref HQ 21 S4716 2006), the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (Ref HV 6017 E52 1983), The Philosophy of Law (Ref K 204 P49 1999), the Encyclopedia of Bioethics (Ref QH 332 E52 2004), etc. Ask at the Reference Desk for advice on subject-specific encyclopedias that might help you.


  Subject bibliographies and indexes, which list books and/or articles on particular topics, can lead you to substantial reading lists in your area of research; they are useful even when older and not including citations to current publications; computerized indexes enable you to update.
  Also depending on your research topic, one or more of the following may be useful: A Bibliographic Guide to the Comparative Study of Ethics (Ref BJ 69 B53 1991), Human Rights (Ref K 3236 H86 1985), Beacham's Guide to Environmental Issues & Sources (Ref GE 115 B43 1993), Abortion (Ref HQ 767.5 U5 C67), A Bibliography on Animal Rights and Related Matters (Ref HV 4708 M34 1981), Criminal Justice Ethics (Ref HV 9950 S36 1991), etc., etc. Again, consult a Reference Librarian for appropriate recommendations.

Web Resources

Access to Insight: Readings in Theravada Buddhism
   A  collection of more than one thousand suttas from the Theravada tradition, in translation and electronically accessible, plus several hundred articles and books.

Citing Sources

For guidance on how to properly refer to sources you use -- both print and electronic -- see the Library's "How to Cite" page.