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OU on the BBC: Justice: The Case For Cannibalism

Updated Wednesday 2nd February 2011

The idea of eating human flesh creates something between moral repugnance and squeamishness in most people - but Michael Sandel asks if there can be a case for it.

In the second in a series of lectures drawn from Harvard professor Michael Sandel's famous undergraduate course on justice, he introduces the British utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, with reference to an infamous 19th century legal case from Victorian England - the shipwreck of the Mignonette.

After nineteen days lost at sea, the ship's captain decided to kill the weakest amongst the survivors - the young cabin boy - so that the rest could feed on his blood and body. The case sets up a classroom debate about the moral validity of utilitarianism and its doctrine of the right thing to do being whatever produces the greatest good for the greatest number.

The Case for Cannibalism was first broadcast on BBC Four at 8.30pm on Tuesday 1st February, 2011.

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