Posted on Jan 19, 2011

Once again Union’s Ethics Bowl team competed in the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl at the end of fall team. This year’s tournament was hosted by Dartmouth and featured 20 teams from 17 colleges. 

Union, the defending champion, advanced to the tournament portion of the competition, but was eliminated by Colgate in the quarterfinals on a split decision. Stevens Institute of Technology won, beating Dartmouth in the final round.

“Union did an excellent job before and during the competition. To prepare, the team drew on expert opinions from across the Union community,” said Mark Wunderlich of the Philosophy Department, the team’s advisor, noting that the competition challenges students to work through difficult moral and ethical issues.

“Our team members talked with political scientists about the status of bullfighting in Spain; with economists about global development and the economic consequences of illegal immigration; with philosophers about privacy and Facebook; and with faculty from Women’s and Gender Studies about moral and political issues connected to pregnancy.”

Seven of Union’s 10 competitors were new to the team this year. Members included: Pieter Boskin ’11 (majoring in biochemistry, philosophy and studio visual arts), Bui Duy Thanh Mai ’12 (Asian studies), Alana Curran ’14 (neuroscience), Sam Fein ’12 (political science), David Leavitt ’12 (economics), Trevor Martin ’14 (law and public policy), Melissa Moskowitz ’14 (political science), Bryn Peterson ’14 (psychology), Ryan Semerad ’13 (English and philosophy), Lea Tessitore ’12 (political science and women’s and gender studies).

The team is funded by the Internal Education Fund, Office of the Dean of Studies and Office of the Dean of Academic Departments. It is sponsored by the Philosophy Department.

Ethics Bowl cases are distributed at the beginning of the term, and teams have roughly 10 weeks to prepare for debate. Questions are not disclosed in advance, however, so students must consider many ethical dimensions of each case. The questions asked at this year's competition included:

“Is it ethical to bar pregnant athletes from competition because there is some evidence that the fetus may be harmed?”

“Is the replacement of traditional journalism – the fourth estate – with the blogosphere a good thing?”

“Is the decision of the parliament of Catalonia to ban bullfighting morally justifiable?”

“Should the United States follow Australia in making voting compulsory?”

In addition to Union, Colgate, Dartmouth and Stevens Institute of Technology, teams competed from: Bard College, Buffalo State College, Concordia University, Elmira College, Franklin Pierce University, SUNY Fredonia, Manhattan College, Marist College, Merrimack College, Moravian College, College of Notre Dame, St. John’s University, Saint Joseph College and Simon’s Rock.