CSU, Chico News

Ethics Bowl Team Lands in 11th Place at National Competition in San Antonio

Date: 03-21-2013

Kacey Gardner, editorial assistant
Public Affairs
Eric Gampel, faculty
Department of Philosophy

A team of four students representing California State University, Chico’s Ethics Bowl team placed 11th out of 32 teams from across the country competing in the 17th annual Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl on Feb. 28 in San Antonio.

The team, composed of students Jeremy McNutt, Mark Gaynor, Michelle Grek and Jordan Draper, won two of its three rounds, losing only to semifinalist St. Olaf College. The students had prepared 15 ethics cases in advance of the competition, three of which were randomly selected for each round. The three the CSU, Chico team presented were

  • Case #1: Whether it is unethical for a food company to run a blind taste test on its frozen foods when the food included chemical additives that one of the tasters had publicly criticized on a blog as unhealthy. The food company knew of the taster’s objections but did not inform her in advance.
  • Case #8: Whether it is ethical for the United States to have laws that permit corporations and unions to make unlimited political contributions.
  • Case #13: Whether the United States should enact more stringent legislation protecting disputed artworks from other countries on loan to U.S. museums.

The team was also responsible for five-minute responses to presentations from opposing teams about Cases 6 (Dream Act), 7 (exotic animal hunting) and 14 (prenatal genetic testing).

The 32 teams who competed in the national competition were selected from regional playoffs, which saw well over 100 teams nationwide from various universities. CSU, Chico’s two teams of three that competed at regionals in Santa Cruz placed first and second, qualifying them to send one team to nationals.

The champion of the national competition was DePauw University. CSU, Chico placed ahead of many strong contenders, including Colgate University, The Citadel and Illinois Wesleyan University.

“I’ve participated in Ethics Bowl for three years now and have seen us make it to nationals twice,” said Gaynor, a senior on the team. “I would rank the experience among the greatest opportunities I’ve had as an undergraduate, and I think it’s contributed immensely to my growth, both as a philosopher and as a person.”

The championship was held as part of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics 22nd Annual Meeting. Recognized widely by educators, the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl has received special commendation for excellence and innovation from the American Philosophical Association and received the 2006 American Philosophical Association/Philosophy Documentation Center’s 2006 prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. The format, rules and procedures of the contest all have been developed to model widely acknowledged best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics.