On July 5, 1883, Dudley, Stephens, and Brooks-“all able-bodied English seamen-and an English teenage boy were cast adrift in a lifeboat following a storm at sea. They had no water with them in the boat, and all they had for sustenance were two one-pound tins of turnips. On July 24, Dudley proposed that one of the four in the lifeboat be sacrificed to save the other. Stephens agrees with Dudley, but Brooks refused to consent-and the boy was never asked for his opinion. On July 25, Dudley killed the boy, and the three men the fed on the boy’s body and blood. Four days later, the men were rescued by a passing vessel. They were taken to England and tried for the murder of the boy. If the men had not fed on the boy’s body, they probably would have died of starvation within the four-day period. The boy, who was in a much weaker condition, would likely have died before the rest. Regina v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 Q.B.D/ 273 (1884)
Positive Law: Under positive law the ruling would be that they were guilty of murder. This is the law that is black and white and, without any other circumstances being taken into account, the men would be found guilty.
Legal Realism: If you take the circumstances surrounding the murder into account then the ruling would be one of not guilty. They needed to kill the boy in order to survive.
Natural Law: This law is a set of principles that are held by an entire culture. If this law is being considered then the ruling would be not guilty. It is believed that most of a culture would do anything in reason to survive.
Extra Credit #1
After World War II, which ended in 1945, an international tribunal of judges convened at Nuremberg, Germany. The judges convicted several Nazi leaders of “crimes against humanity.” Assuming that they Nazis who were convicted has not disobeyed any law of their country and had merely been following...
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