It may be more noble for Dogen to sacrifice himself for his son, but that doesn't make Jacob's ultimatum "good". He's getting what he want - Dogen as his lifelong slave. It reflects well on Dogen, but not so much on Jacob.
One difference is that the "hard bargain" offered Dogen by Jacob not only gives Dogen what he wants, but also, offers him the chance to do the right thing: to make a moral choice that undoes the terrible end of an amoral choice. And so, to go on to live a life that by that choice alone, may seem to Dogen far more meaningful than that of a businessman. To be a good man, not just a good businessman.
(Shades of Scrooge, to Jacob (sic) Marley: "You were always a good man of business, Jacob." "Business?" Marley keens. "Business? MANKIND was my business!")
And still, Dogen does not seem to be Dogen's slave as much as a leader -- responsible, respected, with a cool nickname AND a cool hideout. He has been given the chance to serve, not only Jacob, but many other people: to lead and care for people, rather than, say, drink himself to death in penance for how he failed his son.
I suspect whatever Esau offers, it is not the chance to undo the harm one has caused to a loved one, nor then to have the opportunity to serve others, from a place of authority. And in that, I think the choice that Jacob offers does reflect well on Jacob, as well.
Edited by Pallas429, Mar 3, 2010 @ 8:05 PM.