Essay On Starve Or Kill A Lifeboat

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To Starve or Kill in a Lifeboat Webster’s dictionary defines utilitarianism as “a doctrine that the useful is the good and that the determining consideration of right conduct should be the usefulness of its consequences” (Merriam-Webster). This doctrine is used in cases when trying to decide whether an issue is morally acceptable or not. In the case of the sailors stranded in a lifeboat at sea, the question raised is whether or not the men were morally corrupt by killing the cabin boy. There are two basic approaches used to determine the outcome of this case. The first has to do with deciding if the benefits of killing a person outweigh the costs (Sandel 32). The second approach says that consequences are not the only factor to consider because some moral duties and rights are more important (Sandel 33). “Suppose you were the judge, assume that you were asked to decide whether killing the cabin boy was morally permissible, how would you rule” (Sandel 32)? Four English sailors became stranded at sea and were stuck in a lifeboat for 24 days. The youngest of the four, named Parker, was only seventeen. He was an orphan who had become a cabin boy. He became ill when he drank seawater and began to show signs of death (Sandel 31). On the twentieth day one of the men decided that the cabin boy had to be killed. They ate his body and blood until a rescue boat arrived days later. The men were arrested and charged with murder. The conflict arouse when the decision had

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