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  • In the summer of 1884, four English sailors were stranded at sea in a lifeboat in the south Atlantic, over 1,000 miles from land.

  • Dudley was the captain, Stephens, the first mate, and Brooks, a sailor.

  • The fourth member of the crew was the cabin boy, Richard Parker, age 17.

  • The crew had few provisions.

  • For the first three days, they ate a can of turnips.

  • On the fourth day, they caught a turtle which sustained them for a time.

  • But soon they had no food, and for eight days they ate nothing.

  • By now, Parker-- the cabin boy-- was lying in the corner of the boat.

  • He had drunk seawater and become ill.

  • On the 19th day, Dudley-- the captain-- suggested drawing lots to determine who would die so that the others might live.

  • But Brooks refused, and no lots were drawn.

  • The next day, Dudley decided that Parker had to be killed.

  • He offered a prayer, told the boy his time had come.

  • And killed him with a pen knife, stabbing him in the jugular vein.

  • For four days, the three remaining crew members fed on the body and the blood of the cabin boy.

  • Then help came.

  • On the 24th day, a ship rescued the three survivors.

  • Upon their return to England, they were arrested and put on trial for murder.

  • Dudley and Stephens confessed that they had killed and eaten Parker.

  • But they claimed they had done so out of necessity.

  • Putting aside the question of law, how do you judge the morality of what they did?

  • Would you say they acted immorally in killing and eating the cabin boy?

  • Or would you say that, all things considered, they did the right thing, sacrificing one life in order to save three?

In the summer of 1884, four English sailors were stranded at sea in a lifeboat in the south Atlantic, over 1,000 miles from land.

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B1 US dudley parker cabin lifeboat crew killed

The Lifeboat Case (Lecture 1 & 2)

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    Cindy Lin posted on 2020/08/04
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