Utilitarianism And Aquinas Criminal Theory And Kant's Deontological Theory

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Throughout criminal history, there have been various attempts to justify murder. In a widely controversial case, two English seamen, Dudley and Stephens, killed an innocent and helpless boy and subsequently devoured his body to preserve their own lives (“The Crown versus Dudley and Stephens”). This case raises an important moral issue: Is it morally right to kill an innocent person out of necessity for one’s own survival? Three moral theories – Mill’s Utilitarianism, Aquinas’ Natural Law Theory and Kant’s Deontological Theory – provide different arguments on the morality of Dudley and Stephen’s action. However, Kant’s Deontological Theory offers the most well-founded analysis because it absolutely precludes necessity as a reason for murder and cannibalism.…show more content…
Utilitarians would infer that their cannibalistic act produces greater happiness and lesser pain for the three men who fed upon the boy’s body. On the other hand, had the boy not been killed and eaten, all four on ship would likely have died. One can also reasonably assume that the three men, unlike the boy, have wives and children at home. These dependents would likely suffer from the loss of financial and emotional support should the men die at sea. This evaluation makes clear that Dudley and Stephen’s act of killing produces the greatest overall utility or happiness for the greatest number of affected people. As such, the Utilitarian verdict on the issue is that Dudley and Stephen’s act of killing is morally
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