Trolley problem

thought experiment in ethics

The trolley problem is a series of thought experiments in ethics and psychology, involving stylized ethical dilemmas of whether to sacrifice one person to save a larger number. The question of formulating a general principle that can account for the differing moral intuitions in the different variants of the story was dubbed the "trolley problem" in a 1976 philosophy paper by Judith Jarvis Thomson.


  • Es stände besser um die Welt, wenn die Mühe, die man sich gibt, die subtilsten Moralgesetze auszuklügeln, zur Ausübung der einfachsten angewendet würde.
    • The world would be in better shape if people would take the same pains in the practice of the simplest moral laws as they exert in intellectualizing over the most subtle moral questions.
    • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Aphorisms, D. Scrase and W. Mieder, trans. (Riverside, California: 1994), p. 30

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