For the last ten years I have had the privilege and joy of coaching the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team.  Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate debate competition focusing on moral issues.  Each Fall semester teams are given fifteen cases dealing a variety of ethical dilemmas, including issues in business ethics, bioethics, social ethics, and international politics.  Being located in Indiana, Taylor participates in the Central States regional competition, which was held last Saturday at Marian University in Indianapolis.  This year fifteen colleges participated.  Schools are allowed to enter a maximum of two teams, and five schools did so, including Taylor, which brought the total number of teams competing to twenty.

Among the issues debated were these:

  • Do developing nations have the moral right to use coal despite its negative environmental impact?
  • Should the NCAA allow women an extra year of athletic eligibility (so that female athletes will not be tempted to play sports while pregnant)?
  • Should the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution be changed by dropping the citizen-by-birth clause (to eliminate an incentive for illegal immigrants to cross the U.S. border to give birth to their babies)?

There are ten regional competitions across the country, and the top finishers in each region receive bids to the national Ethics Bowl tournament, which is held in the Spring.  In our region, the top four teams were to receive bids to nationals.  Our teams finished 1st and 4th overall, thus (doubly) clinching a bid to nationals (and actually allowing the 5th place team to qualify as well).

Both of our teams performed brilliantly.  My co-coach, Jeff Cramer, and I were thrilled for the students when the results were announced.  We beamed like proud parents.  Soon we will begin to prepare for nationals.  In fact, our line-up for the competition has already been established.  (Since each school may enter only one team at nationals, we had to select five students from among the ten students on our two teams who competed at the regional.)  We’re all excited to see the next round of cases, which will be announced in early January.

Taylor teams have made it to nationals 50% of the time over the past decade, and this is our second regional championship since 2003 (along with two 2nd place and a 3rd place finish).  However, we have never made it to the quarterfinals at nationals, and that is one of our goals this year.  Time, as they say, will tell.

8 Responses to “Taylor University: Central States Region Ethics Bowl Champions!”

  1. Andrew


    My Ethics Bowl experience is one of my favorite TU memories. Congrats to the team…and their coaches.

  2. Marc Belcastro


    Excellent work, Ethics Bowl team, and well done! I’m sure you’ll be a rather formidable adversary at the national competition this spring.

    I couldn’t help but notice the subtle and artful placement of what appears to be Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief in the lower, righthand corner of the above image. I gather that your aesthetic sensibilities are as refined and discerning as your ethical ones. =)

    • Jim Spiegel



      You are very observant! Believe it or not, the placement of that book was completely unintentional (humanly speaking, and so far as I know). Some of our E-Bowlers are currently taking Dr. Diller’s Epistemology course, in which the text is being used. Evidently, that’s one of their copies on the floor. But given Plantinga’s emphasis on the significance of moral living for cognition (and, by application, debate competitions), there might be some subtle (or not so subtle) divine point there. 🙂

      • Rachel Jonker


        If only I could say that I had placed it there intentionally! But perhaps it’s better that it just happened to be there. That way I can’t take any credit for it.

  3. Kyle


    Excellent work… I look forward to hearing the results of the national competition. Looks like you have a strong group. Best of luck in Cincy… may the judging be fair (Dartmouth) and all bowlers remain healthy (Bliss :/).

  4. Lezlie


    That’s GREAT! I loved ethics bowl, too, and am happy to hear it’s continuing on. Ethics: the best part of philosophy! Congratulations to you and the team!


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