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Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl

UNC IEB Team 2016
The 2016 UNC IEB team at the Nationals in Washington D.C.

The Parr Center for Ethics sponsors the UNC-Chapel Hill Ethics Bowl team that competes in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics Bowl each November at Clemson University. The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition is a part of a larger ethics bowl initiative by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Ethics Bowl team is comprised of students enrolled in PHIL 261.001: Ethics in Practice. The course provides students with an opportunity to practice applying moral theories and principles of argument that they learn in their ethics classes in the interactive format of the Ethics Bowl.

During the course students will discuss and prepare arguments about several cases. Preparation involves significant research, writing, understanding ethical theories, and oral presentation. The case studies involve ethical issues in practical contexts, including engineering, law, medicine, personal relationships, education, and both domestic and international politics. Specific questions may concern a wide range of ethically salient topics, including but not limited to plagiarism, dating and friendship, gun control, environmental policy, civilian casualties, and globalization.

For information on the UNC-Chapel Hill Ethics Bowl team or how to get involved, contact Sally Moore at

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is run by the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) at Indiana University. Regional competitions like our Mid-Atlantic Ethics Bowl qualify their winners to participate in the national ethics bowl, which takes place at the APPE Annual Meeting.

2017 Regional Case Set

Location University of North Georgia, Dahlonega Campus

Date Saturday, November 18th 2017

UNC Team:

Coach: Ian Cruise

Team members: Jessie Aney, Alex Bennett, Justin Christman, Jack Gilewicz, Scott Harn, Chiwoo Park, Wyatt Plaga, Jason Scanlan, Ruth Tomlin, Jacky Wang , Alec Way

From the Coach:

“In the fall of 2017, I coached UNC’s two Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl teams. 11 students total took PHIL 261 to prepare for the competition. Every student had taken an ethics course before enrolling, so we started the course with a reminder of some of the popular theories of ethics. However, I encouraged the students not to apply these theories mechanically to the cases. Part of the value of practical ethics is that it highlights what’s compelling about the central insights of each of the major theories.

The cases confirmed this. To take just one example, one of the cases concerned the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, in which a teenage girl leaves behind a series of tapes explaining to specific people how they drove her to commit suicide. On the one hand, psychologists warned that the narrative structure of the show might encourage the idea that suicide can be used as a form of revenge. Moreover, they suggested that the show’s graphic depiction of the girl’s suicide might increase suicide ideation among those already susceptible. In short, the continued availability of the show might have very bad consequences, namely, an increase in the number of suicides. But on the other hand, many of us think that artists have the right to express themselves through their art. Taking down the show would seem to be a form of censorship of artistic expression. The case thus reveals a tension between the moral importance of both the consequences of our actions (or inactions) and the rights we think people have.

For most of the rest of the semester, each team spent each class period preparing their views on the cases. Then during each recitation, the teams practiced their presentations and responses.

In mid-November, I took the teams to the competition at the University of North Georgia. In my estimation, both teams did extremely well. One of the teams made it to the semi-finals, but unfortunately, the journey ended there. I’m very proud of this year’s group. They worked very hard all semester, and they’ve significantly improved their ability to analyze difficult ethical issues.” – Ian Cruise

From the Team:

“The competition weekend was a blast. The car ride was fun we got to listen to music and we all had a good time. I grew very close to all of my teammates through the semester, in fact I am taking several classes with them next semester.” – Scott Harn

“I would recommend [this course] to people who have difficulty coming up with arguments to support their beliefs.” – Wyatt Plaga

“It was by far the most interesting, most involved philosophy course I’ve taken at UNC. The actual doing of philosophy is what makes philosophy so fun, which is why I would recommend this course especially for non-majors who want to learn some of the more practical parts of philosophy while also getting that philosophical reasoning credit.” – Jack Gilewicz

“The course is obviously way more participation intensive than any other class I’ve ever taken at UNC. Pretty much all of your success in the course is based on your ability to interact with your team and have effective conversations about ethical problems. As a result, you become much closer with your classmates and teachers than you would in another sort of course.” -Alex Bennett

“I would recommend this class to anyone, but especially to someone who is early along in the philosophy major or still considering it. It is a great way to get to know other students, have fun, and see the more practical side of ethics.” – Ruth Tomlin

“You’re not going to take another class like this one. It pushes you just enough so you feel like you’re improving and learning but you don’t dread going to class. It was the kind of class that I told my whole family about.” – Anonymous

“It was a lot of fun, was useful in developing my ability to apply theory to practical real world issues, and a good source for that precious EE credit.” – Justin Christman

“My ability to create ethical arguments improved due to the skill of my classmates. I am not a philosophy major, therefore I gathered a lot of information of how to articulate philosophical arguments from my peers.” – Anonymous

For more information about the Intercollegiate Ethics bowl, visit