Cannibalism - the practice of eating human flesh - is illegal in every country on Earth. Yet, the moral context is far from straightforward: is it always wrong? What about in matters of life and death? Should having the victim's consent impact the way it is viewed?
Cannibalism has only been viewed as unethical in recent times
The practice has a long history spanning cultures, continents and millennia.
There is archaeological evidence for early cannibal societies
Early human fossils found in several European countries, including France and Spain, evidence rampant 'caveman cannibalism'Explore
Cannibalism was believed to be a powerful cure for disease in the Middle Ages
In sixteenth century Europe, feasting on the dead was used as a cure for a range of physical ailments.Explore
Forms of cannibalism already exist in mainstream society
Whether in religious ritual or post-natal diet, forms of cannibalism are already widely accepted.
Consuming placenta is cannibalism
In ideological groups such as Scientology, mothers are encouraged to consume their placentas after giving birth.Explore
The Eucharist is cannibalism
Religious groups, such as Catholics, who believe in transubstantiation willingly engage in cannibalism on weekly basis.Explore
Endocannibalism is widely practiced to this day
From the Yannomami to the Amuhuaca, certain communities have practiced Endocannibalism - or the consumption of a dead person's flesh - for aeons, as an important cultural rite.Explore
It is only ethical when necessary for survival
Unless one's own life depends on cannibalism, it is morally abhorrent.
It is permissible when a matter of life or death
In rare and extreme examples where survival depends on cannibalism, it is permissible. For example, when survivors of the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crash of 1973 turned to cannibalism to survive, the mass media admired their fortitude.Explore
This page was last edited on Sunday, 15 Mar 2020 at 19:58 UTC