Ethics Bowl

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Whitworth University Ethics Bowl

Thinking critically about the world is an essential part of engaging with it. Ethics Bowl helps you to do that.

-- Kelly Vincent Weirich, '09, Philosophy Major

Each fall Whitworth fields a five-student Ethics Bowl team that competes against other colleges and universities at the Northwest Regional Ethics Bowl, in Seattle. The first- and second-place teams from the NREB qualify for the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, held each spring. The IEB is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

Whitworth's interdisciplinary team comprises top students who have taken an ethics class and who are able to apply ethical theories in complex contexts. The team members have come from all class standings (freshman-senior) and from a wide range of majors, including chemistry, communication studies, English, philosophy, political science, psychology and theology. The team meets weekly for practice sessions and coaching by Whitworth faculty members. Individual students conduct research on assigned cases, and the team works together to develop skills in critical and analytical thinking, clear reasoning and public speaking.

In advance of each competition, Whitworth's team receives a set of ethical issues that they have about seven weeks to research, identify key principles, and apply ethical theory. In 2012 the team researched and analyzed 15 cases on topics including multiuser online role-playing gamers who engage in virtual romantic and sexual relationships and then want to continue these relationships in the real world; a Mississippi governor who required a jailed sister to donate a kidney to her jailed sister as a condition of their prison release; the government using graphic pictures as warning labels on cigarette packaging; assessing the moral obligations of France and Italy to Tunisian refugees seeking asylum; states selling state-run lottery operations to private corporations; proposed limitations on whistleblowers in the meat industry; and weighing the benefits of destroying levees to save small towns at the expense of farmland.

At the regional and national bowls, a moderator poses a question to each team that is drawn from the cases the team has researched. The team confers for one minute and then presents a coherent answer to the question, demonstrating skills in policy analysis and ethical understanding. A panel of judges, who are typically ethics professors and ethics officers and practitioners with large organizations, rates each team's answer on the following criteria: intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.

2017 Tied for fifth place at nationals
2015 National runner up at nationals; first place in the region; second place in the state
2014 Tied for fifth place at nationals; second place in the region; first place in the state
2013 Tied for third place at nationals; second place in the region
2012 National Champions; second place in the region
2011 Tied for third place at nationals; second place in the region
2010 Third place in the region
2009 Tied for fifth place at nationals; first place in the region
2008 Third place in the region
2006 Second place in the region
2005 Third place in the region
Contact Information

Mike Ingram

Professor of Communication Studies

Keith Wyma
Associate Professor of Philosophy


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