The Case of the Speluncean Explorers

1980 Words 8 Pages
What determines whether an action undertaken by any agent is right or wrong? Lon L. Fuller's 1949 article, The Case of the Speluncean Explorers, provides a situation whereby the ethical definitions of right action are evaluated. The ethical study of right action consists of two major moral theories being de-ontological (backward looking/origin) and teleological (forward looking/ends). Both also have religious and non-religious strands. The de-ontological theory consists of the divine-command theory (religious) and Kantianism (non-religious), while the teleological theory is composed of natural-law theory (religious) and utilitarianism (non-religious). In this paper, all four strands of moral theory will be used to evaluate the Fuller …show more content…
When Mr. Whitmore's turn came about, someone else cast the die for him and when asked whether he would have any objection, he said no. The die was cast and was not in his favor. He was therefore killed and consumed by the other explorers. After the rescue on the thirty-second day, the defendants were treated for malnutrition and then sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of Roger Whitmore by the County Court. In using the religious de-ontological strand, divine-command theory, which proposes that God determines which action is right and wrong, begs the question to the argument we have (Lect. 10/09). Therefore, it cannot be used to validate why the actors undertook the act of cannibalism. The arbitrariness of moral principles regarding this theory brings about a philosophical problem. An example is that if God commands that "thou shall not kill", it is good but the opposite, if commanded by God, could be good as well. The second problem of this theory is theological because there is no way of measuring goodness itself since God sets the standard himself. The other religious theory, which is teleological, is natural law. This theory attempts to answer the normative questions concerning right action from the order of nature. It attempts to be seen as objective and is known to be quite sophisticated. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a law, "X", is a law if and only if it is an ordinance of nature, for the
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