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The Makah tribe claims to have been hunting gray whales for over 2,000 years. They ceased operations in the 1920s due to a decrease in the number of gray whales. They now wish to return to the hunt in order to provide food for their tribe and to reestablish the young men’s sense of discipline and pride in their traditions. Proponents of the hunt claim that a majority of the tribe supports the hunt, which is expected to take fewer whales than the five allowed by law. According to tribal leaders, no pregnant or nursing women will be accepted. However, some Makah elders disagree, claiming that the tribe survived for the majority of the twentieth century without eating whale meat and that there are better ways to instill pride and discipline. The whale hunt, according to the environmental community, is immoral because it violates the whales’ right to exist on the planet. Is it appropriate for non-Makah tribe members, such as students in your class, to assess the morality of the Makah whale hunt? Explain.

Determine the moral issue(s) at hand, as well as the parties involved. Discuss the moral issues you’ve identified in terms of utility, duties, and rights.


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