Imagine this little scenario.
I have turned vegetarian because I feel really sorry for animals- the pain these poor creatures have to go through just so they can fill my stomach. Ouch. However, a genius of a scientist created a genetically-engineered pig which has one sole aim in life: It wants to be eaten. In fact, it wants to be chewed on and digested so badly, I would be rather heartless and disrespectful if I chose to ignore its simple wish. In that case, should I eat the pig? Is it ethical? Am I going against my initial principles?
Mind-boggling stuff, ain’t it?
The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini is a little gem offering all sorts of moral dilemmas. Absolutely confounding, deeply interesting and extremely entertaining. I couldn’t put down the book down once I started and I have spent the past three lunch hours with my eyes glued to the cute yellow paperback. My fire-fighters heaved a huge sigh of relief today, when i finally started giving them some attention and eye contact.
You see, i have always found hypothetical questions immensely intriguing. Life is at times like a box of chocolates- you never know what you are gonna get. But most of the time, being law-abiding, alternative-fearing Singaporeans, we pretty much know the broad path our life’s gonna take. It is rather unlikely, i think, that i will ever be in a quandary with someone’s life hanging on my decision. It is even more implausible that I will ever get to cheat on my other half in some exotic faraway land with a handsome blue-eyed stranger with the last name Pitt.
Therefore, The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten presents me with a whole exciting array of situations focusing on the perennial what-if? And instead of being the person who poses the question, i get to ponder over the situation and make my own choices. Each chapter begins with a scenario followed by Baggini posing relevant questions which would make you doubt your original opinion. The world isn’t black and white- it’s all about moral relativity.
If you are a kind doctor whose patient is dying a horrifyingly slow and inevitable death, should you carry out euthanasia? What if euthanasia is illegal? One fine day, a cleaner accidentally and unknowingly turns off the life support. You were present and if you wanted, you could have turned it on immediately. However, you chose to leave because it must have been God’s will that the cleaner made the mistake. Anyway, the patient would be happier dead. You didn’t directly kill him. Really?
You decided to cheat on your partner with a mysterious stranger in a foreign country. After sleeping with Gorgeous Stranger, you go home, feeling extremely satisfied. You are also more convinced that you are in love with your partner who remains blissfully unaware of what transpired during your holiday alone. You have now gotten the best of both worlds! But, isn’t it also logical to say that you have broken the deepest trust of all? Your partner trusted you to go on a holiday alone. Your partner did not question your activities, believing that you will never ever stray. Isn’t this sort of trust extremely precious? Can you live with knowing that this sacred bond has been broken?
This book is for people who enjoy asking questions and thinking about life. People boliao, you know, like me. If you are already a cynical nihilist, I would suggest you skip the book cos’ I came out of it not really knowing what is right or wrong anymore. On the other hand, if you are a moralistic person, the book will probably be beneficial- at least you would be less judgmental.
For the next three lunches, I shall bombard my fire fighters with silly questions! Haha!