For the on-campus ethics bowl, here are some suggestions for ways to prepare for the competition and some general information on the process.


A good idea for preparation is for team members to split up the cases between themselves with each team member taking primary responsibility for 3 of the cases.  Each person then becomes something of an expert on those cases and can either write position papers to present to the other team members or verbally, if the team meets in person prior to the competition, presents ideas about the cases, the moral issues, the potential questions, and other relevant factors.

In cases in which ethics bowl preparation and participation are part of a course that you are taking and for which you receive academic credit, such position papers and background research, including the stands that you take regarding cases, should be posted in a discussion area (such as in WebCourses) where other team members can comment on and provide feedback about your position, background research, and so on.


The competition in the on-campus ethics bowl is modeled on the regional and national competition.  Each team is seated across from each other at two separate tables.  The judges (usually 3) and the moderator are at the front of the room.  The room is arranged in a U shape where the judges and moderator are at the curve in the U and one team is on one side and the other team on the other side.

At the beginning of each round, the moderator flips a coin and asks one of the teams to call it.  The team winning the coin toss gets to decide whether they would like to present first or reply.  Whichever team presents first will then reply to the second team’s presentation in the second half of the round.

After the coin toss, the moderator opens the envelope with the first case and a question relating to that case.  The team presenting has a brief time (about a minute) to confer with each other about who will present, and whatever other issues they wish to bring up to each other.  Then the team begins their presentation.

After the team’s presentation on the case, the other team provides critical commentary on that presentation.  When that is done, the presenting team replies to the rebuttal of the other team.

It is important to note that it is NOT necessary to disagree with the position that the presenting team takes.  If your team’s position is the same as theirs, your critical commentary on their presentation can consist of clarifications, alternate arguments, pointing out and correcting factual and argumentative errors made by the presenting team, and other elements of the case that are relevant and useful to include.

After the presentation, rebuttal, and reply, the judges have the opportunity to ask specific questions of their choosing and design to the presenting team.  Any team member may answer  the questions from the judges.

It is important that you and your team remain consistent in the presentation of your position.  So, for example, if you disagree with everyone else on your team about some issue or case, either decide among yourselves that you will not be the presenter on that particular case should it arise in a round, or decide on a consensus with which your team can work.

After the first part of the round is complete, the moderator announces which case is to be considered, and reads the question, and everything continues as it did in the first part of the round.

The judges then present their individual and combined scores for both teams which then determine which team wins the round.

Judges and Moderators

For our on-campus ethics bowl, judges and moderators are faculty members from a variety of disciplines, university administrators, graduate students, advanced undergraduate students, and community members and professionals (lawyers and physicians, for example) who have an interest in the ethics bowl.  The judges and moderators are volunteers who donate their time and energy to ensuring that our on-campus ethics bowl competitions are successful.

Case Studies in Ethics Course

The Department of Philosophy and the Burnett Honors College offer a course, Case Studies in Ethics, that is available to honors and non-honors students who are chosen to be potential members of our regional ethics bowl team.  In some cases for the regional competition, we can have more than one team.  But the standard is one team per college or university.

If you are interested in taking the Case Studies in Ethics Course with Dr. Stanlick and Dr. Strawser, please see one or the other or both of them to discuss your interest and the course content.