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Law and Morals, Essay Example

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We are dealing with the case of Dudley and Stephens that became a precedent in 1884.  After years of debates about the issue of a murder caused by necessity the trial came to the final decision. Necessity was claimed to be no defense against a charge of murder.

I think the main pro for Dudley and Stephens to be found not guilty is their altered state of consciousness. They had spent two weeks in a small lifeboat somewhere in the ocean exposed to the sunshine, without any food and – much worse – without any water. Their minds couldn’t but be damaged under the pressure of circumstances. Furthermore, Captain Dudley was sure that the Custom of the Sea gave an excuse for their actions. The Custom of the Sea is an old traditional law for the sailors to govern their behavior in force majeure. According to the Custom, the sailors should draw lots to choose who would be killed and eaten so that the others might survive. In a number of cases in the past such as Saint Christopher case or James Archer case shipwreck survivors-cannibals had been acquitted.

But it is of primary importance to note that in Dudley and Stephens case the Custom of the Sea was not fairly performed. The men had killed young Richard Parker and the boy was never asked or given a chance to cast a lot. So, we are dealing with the case of a cold-blooded murder. Murder is always a murder – a person always does have a moral choice. Cannibalism was not officially prosecuted and they could have just waited for the boy to die a natural death unless rescue had come. Starving and desperately thirsty, the two men, however, couldn’t wait.

Life is a thing of great difficulty and controversy; sometimes people suffer horrible situations when it is hard to oppose morality to survival instincts. But one must always bear in mind that human life is untouchable and holy. In my opinion, that is the core sense of Law. That’s why I would convict the two accused.

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