Texas State team advances to national Ethics Bowl competition

By David King
University News Service
November 17, 2010

Texas State University-San Marcos will be sending a team to a bowl this academic year--the Ethics Bowl.

The five-student team qualified for the national event at the Texas Regional competition at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio last weekend.

Trista Bishop, Hunter Chambers, David Newton, Ethan Watt and James Ziller--all philosophy majors--will travel to Cincinnati in March to compete against teams from 32 universities and colleges.

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics at Indiana University.

"Ethics Bowl pits one collegiate team against another in debating pressing ethical problems of the day,” said Vincent Luizzi, chair of the Department of Philosophy.

“It gives the players a good understanding of the world of applied philosophy as much as it allows them to showcase and hone their skills of critical thinking and argumentation," he said.

Ethics Bowl teams receive a set of cases that raises issues in practical and professional ethics before the competition. Members prepare an analysis of each case and answer questions about them posed by a moderator at the competition.

Questions can be on a wide range of topics related to ethics, from academic cheating to personal relationships to politics. A panel of judges can ask additional questions, and it evaluates answers. Rating criteria are intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance and deliberative thoughtfulness, according to the Ethics Bowl website.

Each of the three rounds includes two of the cases.

Texas State’s team won all three rounds of the 20-team competition in San Antonio, as did teams from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University. Oklahoma was named the winner of the competition because it had the largest cumulative margins of victory, and Texas State was second.

The national Ethics Bowl is part of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics annual meeting. All three rounds of the competition are scheduled for March 3, 2011.

The Ethics Bowl, which will mark its 17th year in 2011, has been recognized by the American Philosophical Association, and it received the 2006 American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs.