The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions


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Peter Suber, "Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions"

View or edit your browsing history. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Not Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Screen Reader: Enabled Amazon Best Sellers Rank: Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Do you believe that this item violates a copyright? Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Each differs in its reasoning and on whether the survivors should be found guilty of breaching the law. Two judges affirm the convictions, emphasising the importance of the separation of powers and literal approach to statutory interpretation. Two other judges overturn the convictions; one focuses on "common sense" and the popular will while the other uses arguments drawn from the natural law tradition, emphasizing the purposive approach.

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A fifth judge, who is unable to reach a conclusion, recuses himself. As the Court's decision is a tie, the original convictions are upheld and the men are sentenced to death. Fuller's account has been described as "a classic in jurisprudence " [2] and "a microcosm of [the 20th] century's debates" in legal philosophy. In the 50 years following the article's publication, a further 25 hypothetical judgments were written by various authors whose perspectives include natural law theory, consequentialism , plain meaning positivism or textualism , purposivism, historical contextualism, realism, pragmatism, critical legal studies , feminism , critical race theory , process theory and minimalism.

The facts of the case are recounted in the first judicial opinion, which is given by Chief Justice Truepenny. Five cave explorers become trapped inside a cave following a landslide. They have limited food supplies and no sources of nutrition inside the cave. Above ground, substantial resources are spent to rescue them, with 10 workmen killed in subsequent landslides near the blocked entrance.

Radio contact is eventually established with the cavers on the 20th day of the cave-in, and the cavers learn that another 10 days would be required in order to free them. They then consult with medical experts, who inform them that they are unlikely to survive to the rescue given the likelihood of starvation. One of the cavers, Roger Whetmore, then asks on the cavers' behalf if the cavers could survive 10 days longer "if they consumed the flesh of one of their number". The medical experts reluctantly confirm this to be the case.

Whetmore then asks if they should draw lots to select a person to be killed and eaten. No one outside the cave is willing to answer this question. Radio contact is subsequently lost. Once the cave-in is cleared, it is discovered that only four cavers have survived; Roger Whetmore had been killed and eaten by the others.

The survivors state that Whetmore had originally come up with the ideas of cannibalism and choosing the victim through random chance, offering a pair of dice in his possession. Before the dice are cast, Whetmore allegedly expresses a wish to withdraw from the arrangement, preferring to wait another week "before embracing an expedient so frightful and odious". The others refuse to accept his change of mind, and cast the dice on his behalf.

The survivors claim that Whetmore conceded that the dice were thrown fairly. He is subsequently killed and eaten. Following their rescue and recovery, the survivors are charged with the murder of Whetmore. The relevant statute provides that "Whoever shall willfully take the life of another shall be punished by death", offering no exceptions which would be relevant to the case.


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The cavers are ultimately convicted of murder. The mandatory sentence for murder in Newgarth is death by hanging. An exploration in how law and philosophy interact in extremely difficult circumstances: Now what I want is a book dealing with The Trolley Problem in depth. Jan 07, Ji rated it it was amazing Shelves: Finally finished reading this book I marked since years ago after watching the famous Harvard open course - Justice: Thinking around the case can go directly to questioning why law existed, how it works hand in hand or not with morality issues, and different ways law can be interpreted, exercised, etc.

The original case similar to C Finally finished reading this book I marked since years ago after watching the famous Harvard open course - Justice: Suber's extended version has 9 more opinions 50 years later. These are two different sets and should be read differently.

Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 "THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER"

Fuller's opinions may be considered more abstract or deeper and covering more fundamental issues in the universe of law, while Suber's opinions may be considered more modern, more practical, and more relatable to contemporary ways of thinking. When reading through the 14 opinions, I find myself easily swayed from one to the other, finding the logic generally sound and convincing.

It's like listening to an Intelligence Squared debate with 14 experts. At the same time, I find it frustrating to try to "judge" in a situation where nobody is right or wrong. At the same time, I feel weak about myself not able to judge or try to have an opinion, not to mention try to convince others with my opinion. In the normal world, we often want to avoid rushing into a conclusion based on superficial judge-mentality, while in the world of law, the judges think through all lawful reasonings and are still able to reach a conclusion, not because they rushed to conclusions, but because they have to judge.

I think this is a completely different world from mine, and I'm curious about it.


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Aug 28, Vampire Who Baked rated it it was amazing Shelves: From the perspective of a lay person almost completely unfamiliar with the tangled mess that is jurisprudence, this is a nice introduction to the philosophy of law arguably pop-science-y, but apparently it's taught to law students, so it does seem to have sufficient credibility. The original five opinions are pretty obsolete and unidimensional except for Tatting but the nine exceptionally detailed updated opinions run the entire gamut of arguments that one can come up with, and then some. In From the perspective of a lay person almost completely unfamiliar with the tangled mess that is jurisprudence, this is a nice introduction to the philosophy of law arguably pop-science-y, but apparently it's taught to law students, so it does seem to have sufficient credibility.

Justices Burnham who pretty much convinced me of guilt in his voluminous opinion, and Justice Springham who deconstructed every one of the arguments to get me to come to the opposite conclusion. Just reading these two opinions would suffice to get a comprehensive view of most of the mainstream ideas at play. Justice Hellen and Justice Goad who use the same tool - a feminist reading of the law, in particular, an analogy to rape laws- in a dramatically different manner to come to opposite conclusions. Pretty much everyone touches on this, but Justices Burnham, Springham, Hellen and especially Justice Bond have extremely nuanced interpretations of the purpose and methodology for jurisprudence, of positive law and natural law, of the scope of and necessity for judicial discretion and the idea of a societal contract and its power to supersede statutory law.

Well, they do make sense from a particular angle, but some of the opinions looking at you, Justice Trumpet and Justice Reckon are so left of field that it is difficult to take them seriously. To conclude, a very interesting read, and extremely illuminating for anyone not too familiar with the workings of the law.

The Case of the Speluncean Explorers

Sep 16, Luke rated it liked it. As expected, not as good as the first five. But a good addition nevertheless worth reading. Agreed with Justice Bond generally speaking, despite the fact he rescued himself and therefore had no effect.


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Feb 19, Kaylee England rated it liked it. Ugh nothing like reading about the opinions of some dry Justices, but the concept behind the entire novel was very interesting. I found a few opinions that I agreed with completely and found myself angered when the explorers were not let off in both scenarios. This was a book that raised some very interesting moral discussions in my Law and Literature class and was very happy to have been introduced to it.

The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions
The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions
The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions
The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions
The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions

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