The Queen vs Dudley and Stephens (1884) (The Lifeboat Case) Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Who are the affected stakeholders involved in the case? List them thoroughly. Consequences to the whole context

All four had a major stake in the case.

  • Parker (Person who got killed)
  • Brooks (Decision opposing person)
  • Dudley and Stephens (Murderers)

Parker, who was killed had no option because he had absolutely no idea that there was any as such scheme going on. He was ill, but young enough to resist and provide an alternative solution. Parker who after getting murdered saved the lives of other three in a way, but he was not consulted for any decision or suggestion, and he had no major role to play as a decision maker. As far as the role of the Brooks was concerned, he clearly had opposed the decision to kill Parker. From the beginning, his point of view was clear that no such act should be conducted because it was against the humanity (McCloskey, 2011). Later on, he was asked by the other two to take a side and let them do their work. Brooks could have tried to resist and helped Parker save his life by defending him and must have called a detailed meeting of all the 4 people to get the best possible solution. He could have even informed Parker about the expected ambush which could be there any time. As far the role of Dudley and Stephen were concerned, they had a major part to play. These two actually proposed the idea of killing parker and were completely disagreeing with the Brook’s point of view.  They caught a turtle to manage for few days, but it wasn’t enough after all. Since they had no other option as per their point of view, therefore they killed Parker straight away. They justified this act by saying that to save the lives of others one can be sacrificed. These two were the people who introduced the turning point in the case.

Application of ethical theory/modes:  Links to utilitarian thinking (systematic) – Please refer to each. 3 for clarification on utilitarianism!

As far as the as the concept of Utilitarianism is concerned, it is an effort to present an answer to the real question “What should a man have done?” Its answer is that he has to act in a particular manner to produce the best possible consequences. The act of Dudley and Stevens can be justified to some extent by the principle of Utilitarianism is applied; the argument: “The happiness of the majority should be brought into consideration”. Both of the murderers uses the phenomenon that the moral worth of an act is determined by its effectiveness in maximizing required utility and the balance of pleasure over the actual pain. The slope of their action can justify the act of majority abusing the minorities throughout the history, and deny the individual humanity rights in all systems, though utilitarianism offers some simple methods of achieving prosperity or happiness, it have many limitation and may lead to society where the majority have minority do whatever they please. Moreover, it is also a valuable argument that Utilitarianism actually relies upon some theory of the intrinsic value which says that something can counted to be good in itself but apart from further penalties or outcomes (Popkin, 1950). On a general note in the light of utilitarian thinking this act of murder is justified in terms of saving the lives of the majority.

Your personal voice and action: What you would advise the subject involved in your case (ethical dilemma) to do and act? And WHY?

The actual issue here is the justification of a murder of an innocent person. Personally I believe that it is a flawed idea that an innocent human life could be equated with some amount of money or “number for live”, which can indirectly allow the rich and stronger to murder innocent and weak. If I would have been on the boat, I would have called a meeting and drafted an immediate plan. One of us could try catching fish from the sea, when the sea is calm (Singer, 2011). Additionally, I could have advised the two murderers to think hundred more times before committing such an act and would have persuaded them to adopt the other option which could benefit all four at a same time. In this situation, I would have even volunteered to help building some instrument for fishing. As far as the decision of the court is concerned.................................

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