Published Oct. 8, 2021
By SHAYLA DUTTA
Is it ethical to punch a Nazi?
Is it ethical for Donald Trump to ban TikTok?
Is it okay for Facebook to experiment on its users?
What does ethical reporting look like?
Prior to competition, Ethics Bowl teams are assigned cases like these: questions about ethical dilemmas found in current events. The teams are instructed to analyze and view them through a variety of philosophical frameworks, which they discuss with several other teams during the competition.
“It’s definitely like debate, but we’re supposed to be very respectful,” explains junior Cole Dahlia Prekoski, the team’s president. “It’s less like ‘You’re wrong’ and more of a ‘Have you thought about it this way?’”
While the discussions cover a wide range of topics, including the famous Trolley Problem in which a driver must decide between allowing a runaway trolley to run over five people, or intervening and directing it to kill only one, Ethics Bowl cases often bring up current events, like people’s rights online, or the ethics of the popular Netflix show “Tiger King.”
“I love the way people frame things through different lenses,” says senior Elle Rayne, a first-year member of the team. “It opens your eyes to different perspectives. It’s really interesting to hear everyone’s opinions.”
Carmel High School’s program is centered on the annual Ethics Bowl competition in California, which will take place the weekend of Jan. 15. While normally an in-person event, due to COVID-19 concerns the regional competition is predicted to take place on zoom this year.
Currently, the team is lamenting the likelihood of another online competition.
“The online format is so formal, you have to click a button in order to speak,” says sophomore Riley Mabry, a member of the competition team last year.
Other members agree that the conversation is not nearly as interactive online.
“No one ever really wants to unmute or turn on their camera,” Prekoski adds. “It really is a discussion-based club. And that’s hard to do on Zoom.”
Ethics Bowl is not the only academic team facing uncertainty about pandemic restrictions, but they are determined not to let it get in the way of lively debate and discussion about the 2021-22 competition cases.
“This is the year that we’re winning this thing,” Rayne declares confidently. “I think we’re going to do really well.”
The club was founded in 2016 by philosophy and history teacher Marc Stafford, when a student asked him about a speech and debate club. But upon investigation, the extremely competitive atmosphere of speech and debate wasn’t right, so they began looking for other opportunities. In the end, they landed on Ethics Bowl. The team was an instant hit: They fielded a full competition team the first year, and now have 10 to 15 members attending each meeting.
The Ethics Bowl team meets Monday after school and Wednesday at lunch in Stafford’s classroom, Room 25, and is always welcoming new members.