Lifeboat Dilemma Case Study

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The Lifeboat Dilemma
“THE QUEEN VERSUS DUDLEY AND STEPHENS” According to philosopher Michael Sandel, the case of The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens begins in the south pacific on a yacht named the Mignonette. The ship was hit by a large wave and began to sink, four members of the crew were able to escape to a lifeboat. The lifeboat’s crew consisted of Captain Dudley, First Mate Stephens, Brooks a sailor and Parker the Cabin Boy. All of the men were highly regarded, with the exception of the cabin boy who was a 17 year old orphan looking for an adventure at sea. The men escaped with only 2 cans of turnips and no water. After several days at sea, the young cabin boy drank seawater and started to appear very ill and as if he was dying. After 19 days, Dudley suggested they participate in a lottery as to who would be sacrificed to save the rest of the crew. Brooks was adamant and did not want to participate in the lottery. Ultimately, Captain Dudley killed Richard and even though Brooks originally objected, he shared in the new source of food. After 24 days the remaining crew was rescued (Sandel 2005). Brooks became the state witness and Dudley and Stevens went to trial. The
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Those who reason categorically, the consequences are not a factor in the outcome. Immanuel Kant refers to categorical Imperative as a moral rule that is true in all circumstances. Based on the philosophy of duty based ethics, one should do the right thing regardless of the consequences, killing the cabin boy would be morally wrong, regardless if it increased the happiness of others. “The categorical imperative is Kant’s famous statement of this duty”: “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Gregor 1996). Regardless of the outcome, it is ethically wrong to sacrifice the life of someone else. We should see the good in everyone and adhere to the reasoning of doing the right

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