Ethics Bowl team moves on to nationals

After winning regional playoff, team prepares for the big dance



The members of the Philosophy Ethics Bowl team during their club meeting. The team made it to nationals for the first time and will compete on Apr. 10

The Philosophy Club’s Ethics Bowl Team won their regional playoff against the South Carolina Regional champions Mar. 2, and will move on to the nationals for the first time on Apr. 10. 

Senior Alexander Gordon, a co-head of philosophy club, explained that the club has to prepare different topics to discuss for the Ethics Bowl.

It feels more like a conversation than a competition. One of the unique parts of the competition is that part of the scoring is how supportive you are of the other team

— Michael Christensen

“During the first semester the club spends most of its time preparing for regionals by staging mock ethics bowls using the case studies provided by the National High School Ethics Bowl. Second semester, the club dives into topics chosen by its members,” Gordon said. 

Social studies chair and club sponsor Michael Christensen said the purpose of the National High School Ethics Bowl is to help students engage in conversations about difficult ethical dilemmas and work with their peers to reach the best conclusion. 

“Before the competition, a set of cases is released that outline difficult moral problems,” said Christensen.  “This year’s regional case studies included fast fashion, police reform, school discipline, factory farming and several other tough issues.  Students read the cases and think through what they think are the best resolutions.”

Christensen said that she likes how the competition is carried out because it gives opportunities for both teams to discuss and share their thoughts on different topics. 

“It feels more like a conversation than a competition. One of the unique parts of the competition is that part of the scoring is how supportive you are of the other team,” she said. 

With the competitions moving to a virtual form, Gordon said that this change enables the Ethics Bowl to feature accomplished professors from around the world as judges. 

“One of the judges for our first round at the Chicago Ethics Bowl was Professor Roger Crisp, a leading professor of ethics at Oxford, and every round afterward featured at least one noted judge. It was really interesting to hear their perspective on the issues we were discussing, as well as their feedback on our presentation after the round had ended,” he said. 

Senior Lucy Gale, also a co-head of philosophy club, said she likes virtual competitions because it’s easier to converse with her teammates during the debate. 

“Normally we would have to pass handwritten notes during rounds, however – as you can imagine – it is much faster and more efficient to text or Zoom chat teammates,” she said. 

However, Gordon said that the competitions tend to lose their atmosphere when the teams can’t meet each other in-person. 

“In a typical year, following a round while waiting for the next round to start, there’d usually be a really great discussion between the two teams and judges on the question at hand or another important ethical question, and this year that isn’t really possible over zoom,” he said. 

With the national competition approaching, Christensen is optimistic about the team’s chances, but is just happy to have made it this far.

“We hope to meet some other teams and do well.  We’ve never made it to nationals before and are happy to be able to keep competing,” she said.