Eat What You Kill: Or, a Strange and Gothic Tale of Cannibalism by Consent
Charles J. Reid Jr.
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)
North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation (2013) Forthcoming
U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-09
Consent-based jurisprudence has become the dominant model for understanding much of law and ethics. It exalts freely-exchanged consent grounded on rational and autonomous decision-making. This Article means to raise questions about the foundations of consent-based jurisprudence. It does so by focusing on a recent German case. Two German computer scientists exchanged repeated and free consent to an act of cannibalism. Following these exchanges, which were not only reduced to writing but put on video-tape, the one scientist killed and ate the other. The victim, if he can be called a victim, even urged the cannibal to the completion of the task when the cannibal seemed to lose nerve. This Article reconstructs the circumstances of this case, evaluates the German law under which the cannibal was tried, examines the existing scholarship on this case, and concludes with a review of its implications for jurisprudence and morals.
Keywords: jurisprudence, consent-based jurisprudence, cannibalism, law and morality
Date posted: April 3, 2013 ; Last revised: April 10, 2013