Eating Human Beings: Varieties of Cannibalism and the Heterogeneity of Human Life

Philosophy 91 (4):483-501 (2016)
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Abstract

Philosophy as well as anthropology is a discipline concerned with what it means to be human, and hence with investigating the multiple ways of making sense of human life. An important task in this process is to remain open to diverse conceptions of human beings, not least conceptions that may on the face of it appear to be morally alien. A case in point are conceptions that are bound up with cannibalism, a practice sometimes assumed to be so morally scandalous that it probably never happens, at least in a culturally sanctioned form. Questioning this assumption, along with Cora Diamond's contention that the very concept of a human being involves a prohibition against consuming human flesh, the present article explores how cannibalism can have an intelligible place in a human society – exemplified by the Wari’ of western Brazil. By coming to see this, we are enabled to enlarge our conception of the heterogeneity of possible ways of being human.

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Mikel Burley
University of Leeds

References found in this work

Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Eating Meat and Eating People.Cora Diamond - 1978 - Philosophy 53 (206):465 - 479.
Anything but argument?Cora Diamond - 1982 - Philosophical Investigations 5 (1):23-41.
Philosophy's Cool Place.D. Z. Phillips - 2001 - Mind 110 (437):257-261.

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