Dilemma One Sheet #1

Is Cannibalism Ever Morally Permissible?

Is cannibalism ever morally permissible? Weird question, I know, but one that is sure to spark conversation, debate, and discussion in your classroom! This moral dilemma can be found in the first of seven of my Dilemma One Sheet activities available for teachers. 

Dilemma One Sheets are single-page documents that contain information, events, and discussion questions about a particularly interesting case, such as “necessary cannibalism,” that introduces students to philosophy, ethics, law, and justice, and helps them engage in critical reasoning. 

Dilemma One Sheets can fit virtually in every curricular area and can be employed in myriad ways. Use them as bell ringers to grab your students’ attention and start the class in a fun and engaging way! 

Or, use it to pair with a piece of literature you are reading in English class. For example, Dilemma 1 can be a great addition to a discussion of The Odyssey when Odysseus and his men encounter cannibals. Another idea is to discuss Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors. Students can debate whether they would eat the bodies of their friends in order to stay alive. My favorite book to pair with this dilemma is Life of Pi.


Other ideas for inclusion into the curriculum are group discussion, seminar, debate prep, or even spicing up the research paper unit in schools across the globe! Instead of having students complete busy work while a substitute is in the classroom, use these to keep kids engaged and focused, even while you’re away! 

How does it work? 
Fairly simply, actually. Students are given a dilemma one sheet with a question to spark intrigue and evoke responses, possibly even conflicting ones. The one-sheets are single sheet documents that include a list of important events surrounding the case, information on the trial and/or litigation, discussion questions to help keep the students engaged, and detailed teacher notes as well. This makes implementing these into your lesson plans simple and virtually hassle-free – every teacher’s dream! 

Dilemma One
Imagine, for a moment, that you and three other crew members are aboard a sinking ship and must evacuate to the lifeboat. You make it in time, but have minimal food supplies and no drinking water. You are stranded at sea for days.  You are out of food, and you have no water. Death is imminent. 

All of a sudden one of your shipmates falls ill. The vultures are already circling above, and all you can think of is how hungry and thirsty you are, and there is a meal laying right in front of you. 

You and your shipmates discuss and debate what to do with the sickly man. Do you end his suffering and kill him now to harvest the meat and blood? This could keep you alive for a little while longer making rescue more possible. 

Or do you let him live (because murder is wrong) and watch him slowly die? Without anything to eat or drink, this will inevitably lead to your own death as well. 

This leads us to discuss the question: Is cannibalism ever morally permissible? 


How can your students
not want to contribute to this discussion? Key concepts addressed in this very first dilemma include a discussion of necessity versus insanity, individual human rights and collective rights, and more! 

Whether you’re looking for simple activities to supplement your lessons, bell-ringers, or a resource to teach the art of discussion in an academic setting, Dilemma One Sheets are a perfect fit for your classroom! Be sure to leave feedback and let me know how you incorporate these into your classroom! I love hearing your ideas! 

Thanks for visiting!!


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  1. Unknown March 22, 2020 at 8:33 am

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