Jocelyn CHU (Overseas Correspondent at the University of Kent)

Is it wrong to eat a pig that wants to be eaten? Is it guilty to eat someone that wants to be eaten? It is a common belief that killing creatures that may have a decent future is wrong. But what if there were animals having no interest in their own survival just because they had as little awareness as a carrot? How could it be wrong to deprive them of the lives they never knew they had? Or what if the animal actually wanted to be eaten? Would it be moral or justified?

The series of questions asked above that may trigger provocative thoughts are offered by an entertaining and startling book, The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten. It is a philosophy book for a general audience and it provides one hundred philosophical thought experiments that reflect on various moral dilemmas, social conflicts and personal problems. The book was once listed among the bestsellers in U.K. for months and has now been translated into 14 languages to reach more hungry brains.

Generally speaking, philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those concerning existence, knowledge, values, reasons and minds. It may sound a little bit abstract and far away from our daily lives. However, in this book, the author Julian Baggini, a British philosopher, presents abstract philosophical issues in concrete terms, vivid stories or entertaining examples.

Many of the world famous arguments and problems in philosophy are based on thought experiments. Each thought experiment consists of one or two paragraphs to illustrate the scenario, followed by a few hundred words of discussion. In the discussion Julian may present a way out of the dilemma or may play the “devil’s advocate”. And it encourages readers to decide which one to choose or draw their own conclusions. The book is really a feast for the mind and is sure to satisfy any intellectual appetite. What is more, it appeals to readers’ philosophical intuitions.

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten is not a collection of answers to old philosophical puzzles but a provocation, a stimulus to further thought. To quote the author,” Many lines of thought can be started from this book. But none ends in it. “

Readers have different views. You are welcome to send your ideas on the book or any thoughts relating to it to


ResLink Issue No.35
May 2011