Queen V Dudley and Stephens

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There are many possibilities and options I could have taken if I were in Dudley’s shoes. Murder Parker, and feed on him; ask for Parker’s consent to kill and consume him; take a vote, or a lottery and then feed on the selected one, assuming there was consensus to the vote or lottery and to its outcome. However, if I had a choice, there would have been no murder, but perhaps an act of cannibalism, if say the boy, Parker, died naturally. Using Kant’s categorical imperative, I believe that murder, in any way, aside from self-defense, is morally wrong.

Kant’s categorical imperative refers to the “supreme principle of morality” whereby it is morally essential that we adhere to this principle in all circumstances, independent of whether or not consequentially, it brings about more or less happiness. This principle is deduced from two maxims, one about objectivity and the other pertaining to respect for all persons. The maxim of objectivity shows that the morality of an act is determined independent of the factors that may otherwise result in a different consequence. Thus not taking into account the dire situation, murder would be a violation of the common human moral values. The other maxim regarding respecting others says that an act is right if it treats others “as ends in themselves” and not as a “means to an end”. Killing Parker would thus be a means to an end, exploiting him, and not treating him with respect, would be treating him not as an end in himself. Not treating him with respect would thus be disregarding his right to live, which was what Captain Dudley did. Both maxims will thus prove Kant’s first formulation that we all have a perfect duty not to murder i.e. the act of murder will be morally wrong.

Moreover, based on Kant’s quote, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Kant 1993:30), it shows that if there is an uniform decision made by every person, the act would be seen as

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