This past Saturday, November 21, the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team won the Central States regional championship for the 5th time in the history of the program.

Photo by Jim Garringer
Photo by Jim Garringer

Twenty-six teams from fifteen colleges and universities participated in this year’s Central States regional competition, which once again was held at Marian University in Indianapolis. The other schools involved were Belmont University, DePauw University, Illinois Wesleyan University (two teams), Indiana University (two teams), IUPUI-Fort Wayne, Marian University, Millikin University (three teams), Mount St. Joseph University (two teams), Northern Kentucky University, Ohio Northern University, Slippery Rock University, St. Mary of the Woods College, University of Arkansas (two teams), University of Southern Indiana, Xavier University, and Youngstown State University.

As usual Taylor entered two teams, and the rosters were as follows:

Team I:

  • Veronica Toth (Senior, English Writing)
  • Blair Hedges (Junior, Political Science)
  • Jackson Wilcox (Sophomore, Accounting)
  • Sarah Manko (Freshman, Exercise Science)
  • Caleb Holleman (Freshman, Math and Philosophy)
  • Loyal Juraschek (Sophomore, Philosophy)

Team II:

  • Kasey Leander (Senior, History and Political Science, Philosophy, & Economics)
  • Sam Moore (Junior, Philosophy and Biblical Studies)
  • Gabriel Harder (Freshman, Philosophy)
  • Chin Ai Oh (Sophomore, Political Science, Philosophy, & Economics)
  • Bo Thomas (Freshman, History and Philosophy)
  • Gloria Talbot (Sophomore, International Business Systems)

The top finishing teams qualify for the national tournament. At the competition each team competes against three other teams, and our teams had a combined record of six wins and no losses:

  • TU team #1 defeated Marian University (149-131), DePauw University (158-149), and Indiana University II (163-141)
  • TU team #2 defeated Univ. of Arkansas II (160-136), Ohio Northern Univ. (158-136), and Mt. St. Joseph Univ. I (149-139)

Taylor now has a combined 18-match winning streak, dating back to nationals earlier this year and regionals last year.

As is typical of Ethics Bowl competitions, very timely issues were debated in the various matches. These included the following:

  • Do religious freedom laws (protecting, say, a baker’s right not to make a cake for a same-sex wedding) properly balance constitutional rights?
  • Is the “Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights” (providing that law officers can’t be forced to make a statement within ten days of an incident) morally justifiable?
  • Does the American Freedom Defense Initiative (which ran the “Muhammad cartoon contest”) practice appropriate free speech or unacceptable intolerance?
  • Is the composting of human corpses, as advocated by the Urban Death Project (for environmental reasons) an acceptable way of disposing of the dead?
  • Is the Indian Child Welfare Act (mandating that social services place displaced Native American children with tribal relatives) morally appropriate?

These were just five of fifteen cases that all of the teams had to prepare to address. Other cases pertained to issues as wide ranging as the ethics of physicians’ prescribing hard narcotics to their patients, sexism in video games, a New Zealand species conservation case, special taxes on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, the ethics of human egg freezing to delay motherhood, and the ethics of forcing parents to have their young teenager undergo chemotherapy. You can find a complete list of cases as well the competition rules and guidelines here.

In the regional competitions (unlike nationals) wins and losses do not impact teams’ overall scores. Rankings are determined entirely by scores awarded by judges. The top five at the conclusion of the day were as follows:

  1. Taylor University I
  2. St. Mary of the Woods College
  3. Illinois Wesleyan University I
  4. Indiana University I
  5. Taylor University II

The national Ethics Bowl competition is scheduled for February 21, 2016 and will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Reston, Virginia (near Washington, DC).  A total of 36 teams will participate, and Taylor will be striving to defend its national title.

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