[lit-ideas] "The Reluctant Cannibal"

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 08:57:41 EDT

J. Evans: 
>Cannibals seem to be beyond the pale. 
>But we do not eat them, we convict them 
>of murder.

Prof. of Law P. Junger comments: 

> Even if what they have been eating is road-kill?

Geary adds:
>At last an interesting question.  Is cannibalism per se against  the law?
>Could cannibals eat human road kill and not be charged with any  crime?  Of
>course there might be laws regarding the disposal of  human remains, but that
>wouldn't rank up there with murder.  Three  months in the penal farm, maybe.
>If Dahmer had bought cadavers from the  local mortuary, he might be a free
>man today.

Talking of which, I was reading N. Hazzlewood, "Savage: the life and times  
of Jemmy Button" -- the Native Argentine found by C. Darwin in his voyages --:  
re the fascination the Victorians had with all things cannibalistic. 
Hazzlewood  has a caveat, though:
"Captain Fitzroy's Fuegians had answered questions in the way they felt was  
expected of them. In the early days of their abduction their English would 
have  been poor and when asked, 'Do you kill and eat men?' their responses 
have  been limited to 'Yes' or 'No'." (p. 323).
And they possibly answered 'Yes', some of them.

The point is logical, and has to do with connectives -- and answers to  
question of the "P and Q?", I believe.
Grice writes:
"In many cases the idea of conjunction might be regarded as present even  
without an explicit conjunctive device. To say 'It is raining (_pause_). It 
rain harder soon,' seems to say no more and no less than would be said by 
saing  'It is raining, and it will rain harder soon'. In spite of this kind of  
emptiness in the notion of conjunction, we do, however, need explicit  
conjunctive devices in order to incorporate the expressions of conjunctive  
propositions into the expression of more complex molecular propositions. For  
we need to be able to DENY a conjunctive utterance without committing  
ourselves with regard to the truth or falsity of the individual conjuncts -- as 
        A: It will rain tomorrow. It  will be fine the day after.
        B: That's not so.
        A: What's not so?
        B: That it will rain tomorrow  _and_ be fine the day after.
B's final remark migt rest on the idea (1) that the conjuncts cannot _both_  
be true, since it is never fine after only one day's rain, or (2) thhat one  
particular conjunct is false, or (3) that both conjuncts are false.)."
           Grice, "Logic  and Conversation", in Studies in the Way of Words, 
Harvard U. P., 1989.
Geary would object that there are lots of Gricean presuppositions here.  E.g. 
that the Native is 'saying the truth', and would rather suggest that we  
observe what the native does, rather than what she _says_ she does anyway.

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