Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers: A Hypothetical Situation


“Here is a hypothetical scenario,” the professor said, “let’s say the brakes on a cable car malfunctioned and the driver has two choices – go straight or turn right. If he/she goes straight, the car would collide with two individuals on the tracks while if he/she goes right, there’d be four individuals. Which would you choose? Sacrifice two people or four people?”

Hmm, interesting. Obviously, I would choose the two over the four because fewer the deaths the better, right? But those four people should’ve known better, shouldn’t they? Everyone knows you shouldn’t stand between tracks. 

“Those in favor of sacrificing two, raise your hand.” I kept my hand down. “Those in favor of sacrificing the four people?” My hand shot high in the air along with a few other people. The professor looked at me, “Why would you sacrifice the four instead of the two?” I explained my train of thought as the professor rubbed his chin. “Interesting, let’s hear from someone who’s for the other option.”

I sat back. Damn, business ethics is hard.

(~175 words)

I am participating in Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writer, where we write a piece between 100 and 150 words (more or less 25 words) in length inspired by the photo prompt above. Thank you for choosing my picture of the San Francisco cable car for this week’s prompt!

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25 thoughts on “Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers: A Hypothetical Situation

  1. Great job on this piece and yes I remember ethics/philosophy classes are hard. Utilitarian values “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” do not consider invidiualist values, why you might sacrifice 4 rather then two sometimes. I wonder though, I don’t think all ethical choices are so defined as only having two options. There’s always other actions to consider. What if the train driver goes left? Doesn’t he have a radio to warn the people ahead whichever way he chooses?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. My professor actually asked this exact question on the first day of class and I remember there were many different scenarios circling in my head like some of the questions you asked – what if the train driver went left? Isn’t there a radio?
      It turned out, there’s no left and it’s an old cable car and thus no radio, at least, that’s what the professor said.

      Liked by 1 person

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