The Queen V. Dudley-Stephens

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Since the dawn of mankind’s existence, the human mind has struggled to distinguish between right and wrong. As depicted by Michael J. Sandel, Justice conveys the significance of ethics and morality in controversial cases and issues. One of the most fascinating and well-known cases by the name of Her Majesty the Queen v. Dudley-Stephens, brings to light the issue of justice in society. Over the course of twenty-five days in July of 1884, three men become stranded at sea—a cabin boy by the name of Richard Parker, Captain Thomas Dudley, and First Mate Edwin Stephens—after their ship, The Mignonette, sinks in a storm. The three men fight for survival; they eat the bit of food in their lifeboat, catch a sea turtle, and begin to drink their own…show more content…
In the United States, it is common to see terminally ill and comatose patients on life support, which brings us to our argument of a justified killing. In this scenario, you and your spouse are admitted to the hospital after experiencing a car crash. You are severely injured, but are expected to make a full recovery; on the other hand, your spouse has taken serious head trauma and has fallen into a coma with little brain activity. Five years later, your spouse is in a comatose and is still in the same state as they were when admitted to the hospital. All of the charts and opinions from doctors say your spouse will most likely be in a comatose for the rest of their days; it is up to you to end your spouse’s life. Although you dearly love your spouse, you find it difficult to make ends meet as the bills have taken a toll and there is little hope for improvement in brain functionality in your spouse. Do you choose to take your spouse off of life support for your benefit (and you believe for their benefit as well), or do you keep your spouse on life support until the day you no longer can—your death? As heart-wrenching as this situation is, most people choose to take their loved ones off of life support after an extended period of time. The question remains the same—should the individual be trialed for murder? According to murder at common law as stated in the previous…show more content…
They urge the fact that murder is murder and that there should be no excuse or reason to end another individual’s life; furthermore, an individual can only end their own life. According to the definition of murder, their argument has ample footing and support. Murder is defined as the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Surprisingly, murder is defined a bit differently according to common law--murder is the killing of another human being with malice aforethought. The law gives us two kinds of murder as well—“Intent-to-kill” and “Grievous-bodily-harm”. Two key concepts in the common law and its types of murders—“malice aforethought” and “bodily harm”—will help us define Dudley and Stephens’ case as a murder or killing. Malice aforethought refers to the “premeditation”, or planning one takes to kill another individual; yet, it has the connotation of a general evil and depraved state of mind in which the person is unconcerned for the lives of others. In this case, both Dudley and Stephens survive, making malice aforethought inapplicable to their circumstances. If Dudley or Stephens were to have malice aforethought, it would be more probable that one of the men would have killed the other two and both of the men would have killed Parker shortly after their depletion of food. It is evident their primary intent was
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