Member-Sponsored What Would You Do? Contest
|Deadline:||Aug 31, 2017|
Moral dilemmas are thought experiments which ask you to imagine a difficult situation and decide the morally correct course of action.
However, there are no “right” answers to these questions, as they often ask you to compare two different moral imperatives and choose which one you personally feel is most important.
(E.g: if we accept it is morally correct to never torture a living creature, and that it is morally correct to save a human’s life - if you have the ability to do so, how do you decide what to do if you can only save a human’s life by torturing someone else?)
This contest is based on (and doesn't have to be solely about the event, though it should play a major part) using one of the 12 moral dilemmas listed below, in a unique and interesting way with the conclusion as to what your characters chose to do in the end, clear with reasons why).
Read through these 12 moral dilemmas, and then use your thoughts/reactions as the starting point to write a complete short story 2,500 words or under.
As you will see, some of these situations already have named characters and “titles”–feel free to use or discard these as you see fit.
Important: Make sure to note which moral dilemma has inspired your story.
Judging will be based on the following:
Application of moral dilemma/premise: The idea behind the story. What the story is about. The “hook.”
Structure/Plot & Pacing: The framework. Effective use of a beginning, middle and end. The actions, events, conflicts, and turning points propelling the story forward. How the story unfolds (points for originality/unpredictability). The timing of the action, unfolding of plot elements and character development.
Characters & Dialogue: Characters who are distinctive, compelling, three-dimensional. Dialogue that is natural and unique to each character. Use of language effectively revealing character and moving the story forward.
Style/Tone: Overall quality of the writing. Tone appropriate to the material and narrative that is distinct, interesting, and effectively conveys the mood or “feel” of the story.
Prize money for this contest is provided by the Scribophile Writing Contest Prize Fund.
The Deliberate Infection
Ken is a doctor. One of his patients, whom he has diagnosed as HIV positive, is about to receive a blood transfusion prior to being released from the hospital. He has told Ken, in the confidence of their doctor-patient relationship, that after he gets his transfusion, and his medicine from Ken, he intends to infect as many people as possible with HIV starting that evening.
Because Ken is bound by doctor-patient confidentiality, there is no legal way to stop this man from carrying out his plan. Even if Ken warned the police, they would not be able to arrest him, since his medical information is protected.
It occurs to Ken that he could contaminate his medication by putting an untraceable poison in it that will kill him before he gets a chance to infect others.
Should Ken poison this man in order to prevent him from spreading HIV?
The Hostage Ecologists
Tom is part of a group of ecologists who live in a remote stretch of jungle. The entire group, which includes eight children, has been taken hostage by a group of paramilitary terrorists. One of the terrorists takes a liking to Tom. He informs Tom that his leader intends to kill him and the rest of the hostages the following morning.
He is willing to help Tom and the children escape, but as an act of good faith he wants Tom to torture and kill one of his fellow hostages whom he does not like. If Tom refuses his offer, all the hostages including the children and Tom will die. If he accepts his offer, then the others will die in the morning but Tom and the eight children will escape.
Should Tom torture and kill one of his fellow hostages in order to escape from the terrorists and save the lives of the eight children?
The Baby or The Townspeople
Enemy soldiers have taken over Jane’s village. They have orders to kill all remaining civilians over the age of two. Jane and some of the townspeople have sought refuge in two rooms of the cellar of a large house. Outside Jane hears the voices of soldiers who have come to search the house for valuables. Jane’s baby begins to cry loudly in the other room.
His crying will summon the attention of the soldiers who will spare Jane’s baby’s life, but will kill Jane and the others hiding in both rooms.
If Jane turns on the noisy furnace to block the sound, the other room will become uncomfortably hot for adults and children, but deadly for infants.
To save her and the others Jane must activate the furnace, which will kill her baby.
Should Jane overheat her baby in order to save herself and the other townspeople?
The Unfaithful Wife
You are an emergency worker who has just been called to the scene of an accident. When you arrive you see that the car belongs to your wife. Fearing the worst you rush over, only to see she is trapped in her car with another man. He is obviously her lover, with whom she’s been having an affair.
You reel back in shock, devastated by what you have just found out. As you step back, the wreck in front of you comes into focus. You see your wife is seriously hurt and she needs attention straight away. Even if she gets immediate attention there’s a very high chance she’ll die. You look at the seat next to her and see her lover. He’s bleeding heavily from a wound to the neck and you need to stem the flow of blood immediately.
If you attend to your wife, her lover will bleed to death, and you may not be able to save her anyway. If you work on the lover, you can save his life, but your wife will definitely die.
Who should you choose to work on?
The Pregnant Lady and The Dynamite
A pregnant woman leading a group of five people out of a cave on a coast is stuck in the mouth of that cave. In a short time high tide will be upon them, and unless she is unstuck, they will all be drowned except the woman, whose head is out of the cave.
Fortunately, (or unfortunately,) someone has with him a stick of dynamite. There seems no way to get the pregnant woman loose without using the dynamite which will inevitably kill her; but if they do not use it everyone else will drown.
What should they do?
The Drowning Children
You and your family are going away for the weekend. Your daughter is 7 and is best friends with your niece, who is also 7. Your families are very close and your daughter asks if your niece can come with you on your holiday. You have been on holidays together before and don’t see any problem, so you agree.
You arrive at your holiday destination and the house you are staying at backs onto a beach. The girls ask if they can go for a swim. You tell them that they have to wait until you have unpacked the car, but they can play on the sand directly in front of the beach. They run down to the sand, and you begin to unpack the car. After about 5 minutes, you hear screaming coming from the direction of the beach and it sounds like the girls.
You run down to see what the matter is, and you discover that they hadn’t listened to you and have gone for a swim. There is no one else on the beach and the girls are caught in a rip tide.
The girls are really struggling, particularly your niece who isn’t as strong a swimmer as your daughter is. You swim out quickly, but when you get there, you realize that there is no way you will be able to get both the girls back to the shore on your own.
You need to decide which of the girls you will rescue first, you have enough strength and energy to rescue them both, but you can only do it one at a time. You look at the two girls, and your niece is really struggling to hold her head above water and you know if you take your daughter back first, there will be little or no chance that she will survive.
Your daughter is struggling also, but is much stronger in the water and you estimate that if you take your niece back to shore first, there’s probably a 50% chance that your daughter will be able to stay afloat long enough for you return, but you simply don’t know how long she will hold on for.
Who should you save first?
The Bali Drugs Charge
You are on holiday in Bali with your wife and 18 year old son. You have been there for a week and are ready to head home. All three of you are at the airport getting ready to board your plane, when an armed officer comes around with a sniffer dog. You have all your bags on a trolley, and the dog sniffs at both your wife and your bag, and passes over them, however when he gets to your son’s bag, he begins to get a bit more active.
You look over at your son and he’s looking a little nervous. You know he’s smoked a little marijuana in his time, but generally, he’s a good kid, and you certainly didn’t think he’d actually be stupid enough to bring it back on the plane with him. At first you feel angry that he would do such a thing and start planning your responsibility lecture, but then you realize that you are in Bali, and they have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, meaning your son could be jailed for life, or worse, executed, if he does have some illicit materials in his bag.
You look at your wife and realize she has come to the same conclusion and has gone pale with fear.
The armed officer accompanying the dog is beginning to look sterner with every sniff the dog takes and looks directly at you and asks you to open to the bag.
You do, and as the officer begins to take things out of the bag, you see to your horror that there is a small quantity of marijuana stashed in with your son’s belongings.
The officer looks at you and asks, “Whose bag is this?”
You realize you must answer, but the answer won’t be easy. You see your wife in the corner of your eye, and she is about to step forward and claim it as her own.
What should you do?
The Mad Bomber
A madman who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been apprehended. Unfortunately, he has already planted the bombs and they are scheduled to go off in a short time.
It is possible that hundreds of people may die.
The authorities cannot make him divulge the location of the bombs by conventional methods. He refuses to say anything and requests a lawyer to protect his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.
In exasperation, some high level official suggests torture. This would be illegal, but the official is sure that it will make him tell the truth in time for you to find and defuse the bombs.
What if you know that the bomber can withstand torture himself, but would talk if you were to torture his innocent wife instead?
The Tortured Child
Imagine that a powerful alien were to visit earth, with the ability to eradicate war, famine and suffering. The alien says that he will do this, and turn the world into a utopia where humans will be happy and peaceful forever more, but only if a price is paid.
He demands a small child be given to him so that he can perform hideous scientific experiments on it, causing the child unimaginable pain.
What if the alien demands that you must inflict the torture on the child yourself?
The Sick Patients
You are a skilled doctor, with five patients who all need different organ transplants. There are currently no organs available to give them, and if they don’t get their transplants soon they will all die.
You have a sixth patient, who is dying of an incurable disease. At the moment you are giving him medicine to ease his pain and prolong his life. He is a compatible organ donor for your five other patients, but the medicine he is taking will keep him alive just a day longer than they have left.
If you were to stop giving him medicine he would die before them, in a very painful way, but you would then be able to use his organs to save the other five.
What should you do?
What if the sixth patient’s disease was curable, and the medicine you are giving him will allow him to make a complete recovery?
The Robin Hood Robber
You witness a man rob a bank, but instead of keeping the money for himself, he donates it to a local orphanage.
You know this orphanage has been struggling for funding, and this money will allow the children to receive proper food, clothing and medical care.
If you report the crime, the money will be taken away from the orphanage and given back to the bank.
What should you do?
The Plagiarised Report
You are an English teacher at a high school. One of your pupils is a very bright and gifted girl, whom you have always enjoyed teaching. She has always achieved A grades throughout her school years, and is now in her final year and getting ready to graduate. Unfortunately she has been very ill this term, and missed several weeks of schooling. She has just turned in a report which is worth 40% of her final grade, but you realise that she did not write it herself–she has copied a report found online and tried to pass it off as her own work.
If you report her plagiarisation to the school authorities it will be entered on her permanent record and she will no longer be eligible to attend the prestigious university that she has dreamed of attending all through high school.
If you refuse to accept the report, her final mark will be very poor and may harm her chances of being chosen for this university. If you mark the paper as though you believed it was her own work, she will do very well, and stand every chance of getting her desired university place.
What should you do?
Winners have been announced! Log in to see them.
|1st prize:||$100 cash via PayPal, 5 karma points|
|2nd prize:||$75 cash via PayPal, 5 karma points|
|3rd prize:||$50 cash via PayPal, 5 karma points|
|4th prize:||A critique from the judges on a work of your choosing (under 3000 words), 10 karma points|
|5th prize:||5 karma points|
|6th prize:||5 karma points|
Only one entry per member, please. Multiple entries will all be disqualified.
Entries must have Public visibility on Scribophile until winners are announced.
No novel chapters, poetry, or memoirs.
Entries must be 2,500 words or less, by Scribophile’s count.
To enter the contest, post your work on Scribophile and check the box that says “Enter this work into the Member-Sponsored What Would You Do? Contest.” Your work will automatically be considered. The check box will be visible until the contest deadline, which is in UTC time.
Entry is free, but you’ll need karma points to post your work. You can earn karma points by writing critiques of other members work. If you have placed in a contest in the past with a piece, you may not resubmit that piece in other contests.