Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan


  • J. Jeremy WisnewskiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_28-8



Cannibalism, or anthropophagy, is the consumption of the flesh of one human by another. The word “cannibalism” itself comes from the Spanish “Canibales” – a name for the Carib tribe in the West Indies thought to engage in ritualistic cannibalism. The term “cannibalism” can also be used more broadly to mean the consumption of members of one’s own species. The Greek-based term “anthropophagy” quite literally means “eating humans,” regardless of who (or what) is doing the eating. Historically, a great variety of arguments have been offered against cannibalism, and virtually none in its favor. Nevertheless, reflection on cannibalism raises many very difficult conceptual issues, and few arguments against it are without serious problems.

To assess the arguments against cannibalism, three kinds of cannibalism will be distinguished. The relevance of the natural law tradition to cannibalistic activity will then be discussed. Following this, the...


Virtue Ethic Religious Tradition Eating Human Virtuous Life Direct Duty 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy, Hartwick CollegeOneontaUSA