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The Case Of Speluncean Explorers: Jurisprudence Theory

Brief History:
The case of speluncean explorers is an article written by legal philosopher Lon. L fuller first published by Harvard law review in 1949. It presents a legal philosophy puzzle to readers and five possible solutions in the form of judicial opinions that are attributed to fictional judges of the Supreme court of Newgrath.
 
Facts of the Puzzle:
The case involves five explorers who are caved in following a landslide. A rescue team is on its way to save them, meanwhile, they make radio contact with the rescue team and it is understood that it would take about a further 10 days to rescue them. After a discussion with a physician about their situation, it is deduced that without food all five of them will not be able to survive for 10 days. The explorers asked the physician whether they would survive if they eat one of their members, the physician replied yes they would and consequently radio is turned off and dice are rolled and the loser is killed and ate by other members (Roger Westmore is killed and eaten by other members). They survive and rescue teams arrive and take them back to the state, where there are tried for murder and consequently capital punishment is awarded to them.

A sort of review petition is filed by convicted persons in the Supreme court of Newgrath and five judges bench while deciding case give different opinions and an evenly divided judgment was affirmed because one of the judges recused from the case and other four judges gave their reasons, opinions among them two of they affirm the conviction and the other two sets aside the conviction.

My ViewPoint:
In my views, the person who survived and later on they were convicted, should not have been convicted. I fully concur with the views of Justice Foster and would like to add some more points to this to show that they were wrongly convicted. This factious case is one of the classic examples of a shift in the subject of Jurisprudence, it makes us think about the interpretation of statutes that cannot be simply done the same way its language is written.

It has to be construed in such a way that it upholds the natural law theory. According to Justice Foster, the first ground for this opinion is that positive law’s foundation is the possibility of human social coexistence. Where this coexistence becomes impossible, the condition underlying the law ceases to exist.

My point of defense Includes:
  1. It was an act of self-defense:
    All five could not have  survived without food for 10 days (because the rescue team will not be able to save them before 10 days) and all five agreed to the possibility of one of them being eaten by others to save the live. Dice were rolled and no one objected to that and that is how one person was killed and eaten by others. This in all probability will be construed as an act of self-defense because nobody went with the motive to kill one particular person and the act that took place was to save the lives of other persons and that is why they should not have been convicted.
     
  2. The theory of greater good:
    The most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number. This is what we call the theory of utilitarianism. The best action is that which maximizes the number of persons saved. This theory is followed in almost every case where there is every possibility of people dying in any given option and that is when this theory kicks in. As in the present case, all five of them could not have survived for 10 days without food and that is when they on advise of the physician, they decided to roll the dice to choose who is going to sacrifice his/her life for others, no one objected to that and this is how the lives of four members were saved. This act does not amount to murder and the conviction should have been set aside.
     
  3. Interpretation of the statute:
    The statute on most occasions is applied in the simple and plain language it states but in certain exception cases the interpretation of statutes, the purpose of the statute should be considered when applying it to the facts of the case. while judges must obey the will of legislators, they must do so intelligently and by doing so judges will be able to make the will of legislative effective.
     
  4. State of nature:
    According to Justice Foster, all five of them were in the state of nature and that means the laws of the state of Newgrath does not apply to them whereas laws of nature apply to them and law of nature states that The laws of nature allowed to agree to sacrifice one person for the survival of the rest and that is what is done in the present case of the explorers.
     
  5. Purpose of criminal laws:
    There are some objectives of the criminal law, one of the objective is deterrence, The aim is to impose a sufficient penalty to discourage the offender from criminal behavior. General deterrence aims at society at large. By imposing a penalty on those who commit offenses, other individuals are discouraged from committing those offenses. By applying this theory in the facts of the above case, the judges are making it impossible for any other persons in the same situation will not be able to take such decision which can save the lives of many because he or she will have a fear that when he/she survives, a conviction will be handed over to them and that is why in the present case the conviction has to be set aside.

In almost all scenario, the punishment handed over to four survivors of landside is wrong, even if the laws of the state apply to them, the conviction is to be set aside because it was an act of self-defense plus the theory of greater good also applies in the present case. And the other scenario where instead of the laws of the state, laws of nature apply, the conviction automatically has to be set aside.

So Concurring with the views of Justice Foster, I am of the opinion that the conviction of the four survivors should be set aside.

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