The case for cannibalism

We recently wrote about the practice of cannibalism by Aztec royalty in “Celebrating the Aztecs” and “Why the Aztecs?” Now comes Theodore Dalrymple to provide us a timely consideration of “The case for cannibalism.” (Courtesy of National Review Online.) Referring to a pending criminal case in which cannibalism is one man’s meat, so to speak, and being eaten is the other man’s, Dalrymple notes that the cannibal has raised the issue of mutual consent in connection with the murder charge he is facing.
Dalrymple writes: “The case is a reductio ad absurdum of the philosophy according to which individual desire is the only thing that counts in deciding what is permissible in society. Brandes [the murder victim] wanted to be killed and eaten; Meiwes [the cannibal] wanted to kill and eat. Thanks to one of the wonders of modern technology, the Internet, they both could avoid that most debilitating of all human conditions, frustrated desire. What is wrong with that? Please answer from first principles only.”
Dalrymple’s question applies also to other, more pressing issues such as slavery, incest, polygamy, and homosexual marriage. We noted the dead end to which adherence to cultural relativism (a close relative of “mutual consent”) leads in “Why the Aztecs?” and referred readers seeking to think the issues through to Thomas Kranawitter’s “The Intellectual Errors and Political Dangers of Multiculturalism.”


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