While Mines students may possess superior mathematical and scientific reasoning skills, the members of the McBride “McEthics” team also specialize in philosophical discussion and public speaking. Mines played host for the Rocky Mountain Regional Ethics Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 14th. Two Mines teams of five students each competed, and the McBride “McEthics” team won first place and qualified to compete in the national competition in Reston, Virginia.
“Last year we competed for the first time and took third place, and it gave us a lot of motivation to improve,” said Sean Patrick, a senior in Mechanical Engineering and a member of the team. Richard Sebastian-Coleman, Courtney Widhalm, Chris Pumford, and Azriel Wolffe, also “McEthics” team members, worked towards the competition as part of an Ethics course taught by LAIS Faculty member Sandy Woodson.
Unlike debaters, ethics bowl teams do not have to be in direct conflict with one another, but are charged with providing the best possible analysis of an ethical dilemma. The cases, which this year varied from anti-vaccination taxes, to composting bodies, are provided to each team at the beginning of the semester. While the teams research each topic before competition, notes may not be brought to the bowl.
“Preparation mainly consisted of at least five hours of team meetings a week and two to three hours of individual work outside of that,” McGinley asserted. The teams utilized historical precedents, past court rulings, international examples, and ethical theory to support their analysis on each case.
Each round of competition is formatted so that one team presents its initial analysis on the case, followed by the competing team requesting further explanation and challenge its reasoning. Judges from local businesses, universities, and political roles evaluate the competition and award points based off of competition etiquette, evidence provided, analysis, and answers to judges’ questions.
“Ethics bowl teaches you a process for understanding. You have to move through a step-by-step process and that translates into everyday life,” Patrick expresses. “If anything, my friends really hate arguing with me now.”
Above: Sean Patrick, Richard Sebastian-Coleman, Courtney Widhalm and Azriel Wolffe prepare for a rebuttal.