Speluncean Explorers Case

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Ethics and Corporate Governance
The case of Speluncean Explorers

Submitted by:

Anjum Thobani - 2012195
Bhumica Somani - 2012204
Hardikkumar Sojitra - 2012211
Rahul Gupta - 2012229
Saurabh Ajmera - 2012234
Subhasis Das - 2012244
Anuj Gupta - 2012252

1. What is the context/background in which this incident occurred? How does it affect the decision-making?

This case is a hypothetical legal case, which revolves around the four surviving Speluncean explorers who were charged with the murder of their fifth team member, Roger Whetmore. These explorers set themselves for the exploration of a remotely located limestone cave. The explorers had been trapped in the cave since 32 days due to an occurrence of a landslide. During the course, after 10 days, the team gets in touch with the medical team through wireless communication. They explain the team about their medical condition and whether they could survive the situation without any food for the remaining days. On receiving a negative response, Whetmore on behalf of his team further confirms with the physician if they could survive 10 days longer if they consumed the flesh of one of their members. The physician reluctantly agrees to this. Taking this further, in order to survive the circumstance, the team decides to select and eat the flesh of one of the members by using a method involving a pair of dice. On the 23rd day, the dice throw went against Whetmore and he was put to death and eaten by the rest of the party. After the rescue, the four survivors were indicted for the murder of Whetmore. In the case, the prosecutor asked the jury for a special verdict i.e. that the court determine guilt or innocence.

2. In the decision making situation, how can a balance be brought about between the necessity for a decision and the rights of some people on whose behalf such decisions are being taken? Can a decision be made for another? When and how?

As seen in the case according to the demands of the situation a decision had to be taken or else it would have led to the death of everyone present there after ten days. It was also Whetmore who first proposed the use of some method of casting lots, calling the attention of the defendants to a pair of dice he happened to have with him. Before the dice were cast, however, Whetmore declared that he withdrew from the arrangement, as he had decided on reflection to wait for another week. The others charged him with a breach of faith and proceeded to cast the dice. When it came Whitmore’s turn, the dice were cast for him by one of the defendants, and he was asked to declare any objections he might have to the fairness of the throw. He stated that he had no such objections. The throw went against him, and he was then put to death and eaten by his companions. Hence from the above situation we come to know that in a situation where the decision has to be taken on an urgent basis as it is a case of life and death, then definitely the decision can be taken on the behalf of others. But in a situation where there is no scarcity of time and where consensus of each and everyone is important then there is definitely no need of anyone else to take decision on someone else’s behalf. In case of any differences in opinion of the group members, they should continue to discuss and reach on a common consensus.

3. Can a killing in self-defense be excused? Why? Does the plea of ‘self-defense’ apply to the given situation? By the same logic does one have the right to suicide-singly or collectively?

Yes, killing in self defense can be excused. Because it's an instinct. At such times life seems more important than the law. So, saving one’s own life becomes much more important than the law itself. No, the plea of self defense can not be applied to the given situation. Because...
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