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Questions of Conscience

Since February 2002, the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s magazine has published a column under the heading “Gewissensfrage” or “Questions of Conscience.” Since then, readers have submitted questions about the ethical dilemmas that arise in their everyday lives, and each Friday Rainer Erlinger answers one of them in the magazine. To date, the magazine has published more than 500 of these columns, with a new one appearing in print each Friday.

Letters stream in without pause: Each month between 50-100 readers submit questions addressing a broad spectrum of everyday moral issues. Past columns have explored the sensitivity around organ donation and death; the ethical aspects of shopping and choosing a profession; and the moral quandaries that emerge at home, at school, at the office, in traffic and on the train.

Over the years, Erlinger has released three collections of his columns (in German): “Gewissensfragen,” “Wenn Sie mich fragen,” and “Gewissensbisse,” as well as an audio book of columns, “Guten Gewissens.”

The question often comes up: Are the questions that appear in the column actually submitted by real readers or are they just dreamed up by the magazine’s editorial staff? The answer is plain and simple: All the questions are real and submitted by real readers of the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. You’re invited to submit your own questions of conscience using the form on the left.


Questions of Conscience