BGSU Ethics Bowl team prepares for nationals

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Should the Brazilian government flood a valley to create a hydroelectric power plant that will displace thousands of indigenous people? Should it be legal for avatars in the Second Life virtual world to have child cybersex?

Thorny moral questions such as these were among the issues tackled by Bowling Green State University’s Ethics Bowl team at the Upper Midwest Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, held Nov. 13 at Harper College. Their responses earned them a ticket to the national competition to be held this March in Cincinnati.

Sixteen teams from 14 colleges and universities competed in the bowl, which is sponsored by the national Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. Just after Labor Day, the association posted a set of 15 cases, drawn from issues reported in the media. Students had to prepare arguments for every case, not knowing which they would be asked to address.

At the November Ethics Bowl, the seven BGSU participants competed as two teams. They debated over two cases in each of three matches. The panel of judges is made up of faculty members, lawyers, doctors, psychologists and other professionals.

The program is in its second year at BGSU. Coached by Dr. Ian Young, a lecturer in philosophy; along with Bradley Gabbard, a doctoral student and instructor in philosophy from Cincinnati; and Nicholas Sars, a philosophy graduate student from San Luis Obispo, Calif., team members come from varied majors.

“It’s not just for philosophy majors,” Young said. “It originated as a way of getting engineering students at the Illinois Institute of Technology to think more deeply about the ethical implications of their profession, and it took off from there.”

The team includes three philosophy majors: Chelsea Fuller, a junior from Weston; Courtney Steinman, a senior from Toledo, and Scot Hites, a sophomore from Oak Harbor; psychology major Matthew Shadrake, a junior from North Olmstead; political science major Thomas Cunningham, a junior from Ringoes, N.J.; business administration major Nicole Lepore, a sophomore from Chesterfield, Mich.; and Courtney Hutton, a sophomore from Dayton double majoring in film production and Spanish.

“We plan to combine members of both teams to make up the team that we will take to the nationals,” Young said.

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(Posted December 07, 2010 )