By Lily Riesett
Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021
Saturday, Nov. 14, the St. Mary’s Ethics Bowl team competed in the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Ethics Bowl hosted by the University of North Georgia. Under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Michael Taber, the Seahawks won the verdict of eight judges and lost the verdict of four. The team competed in four rounds of reasoning and ended up going 2-2. One round was narrowly lost by one point, being “the closest [match] they [the judges] could recall.” The team was also congratulated extensively on their thorough presentation of ideas and decorum during the discussion.
The Ethics Bowl Team is an extension of the Philosophy Department at St. Mary’s. It was founded by the department in 2010 when it began participating in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics Bowl. The event is hosted by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, an organization devoted to the advancement of ethics and ethical thinking. This has given the team the opportunity to compete against some of the top academically-ranking schools in the country, such as Duke, Georgetown and UNC Chapel Hill. The team has competed every fall since 2010 in this competition.
The team is composed of five students, ranging from philosophy students to biology majors. The students include Zane Obi, Nnenna Ejikeme, Mollie Rudow, Hannah Yale and Nathan Villiger. The members have been meeting since the beginning of the semester for 4 hours a week to prepare for the competition.
To prepare for competition in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics bowl, students developed arguments for 15 different prompts. These include whether climbing on indegenous land is morally correct, whether the filibuster is still useful in today’s political environment, if policing should be reformed and whether critical race theory should be banned from being taught in schools. Each student prepared a stance and research for a few of the cases which they presented to the class for them to use during the competition.
“One of my favorites that we discussed was case number 9, which focuses on the ethics of paying ransom in ransomware attacks,” said sophomore team member Nathan Villiger. These are attacks which encrypt files on devices and render them non-usable. He liked this case because of how topical it was. “We got to apply one of my favorite ethical frameworks, utilitarianism, to the case.” Utilitarianism follows the idea that an action is morally correct based on the level of happiness it produces. Students used frameworks such as this one to make arguments during the cases.
“We did not grab a spot at the regional competition to continue on at nationals, and therefore we will probably take this semester to recuperate and rebuild our team to what we want to see at nationals in the fall of 2022,” relayed Villiger. Nevertheless, the school is incredibly proud of their hard work during the Mid-Atlantic Regional competition.