BATTLE OF PRINCIPLES: The Poly ethics team prepares to compete.
By Jacob Ferrall, Editor
The Ethics in Action course at Poly has kept focused on preparing students to succeed in the National High School Ethics Bowl (NHSEB) regional competition taking place on February 1 at Chapman University. This is Poly’s third year enrolled in the NHSEB, offering an Ethics and Philosophy class, taking place first semester and second semester respectively. Along with continuing to teach Honors World Literature, Mr. Ayres teaches the Ethics and Philosophy classes.
Ayres describes the goal of Ethics Bowl as “bringing together young people to have constructive, meaningful conversations about real world ethical dilemmas.” The ethics team consists of seven of the highest performing students in the class (including two substitutes), that are required to present a case to the opposing team, respond to a case, and answer questions posed by experienced judges. The team is co-coached by Mr. Ayres and Mrs. Wilson. The judges will score the team based on their analysis of the case and their solutions or alternatives they propose. Cases concern political, economic, or philosophical issues that occur in present times, so the solutions worked out by the competitors are applicable in real life. Ayres and his team are “looking to rebound this year” after not coming home with any trophies last year. However, in their first year competing, two trophies for responding to judges and responding to the other teams were awarded to Poly.
Through the class Ayres hopes to “teach people ethical theories that will help them approach ethical dilemmas,” so they can break down quandaries in their own lives and attempt to change the future world for the better. Ethics student Brandon Byrne (12) says that “Mr Ayres always emphasizes the ‘In Action’ part of the class, so we tend to focus on things that happen in the real world.” Byrne explains that the typical day in ethics class may include discussing questions, analyzing ethical articles, and studying different ethical systems of thought. A major project earlier in the year required a detailed presentation on a selected ethical system of thought, in which Byrne had to examine Aristotelian Ethics and Virtue Ethics. Brandon appreciates the class and says he has learned, “A pluralistic approach to ethics encompassing many systems that cast light over the moral landscape and widen our scope.”
The ethics team has been striving for mastery over the cases they may encounter and trying hard to prepare for possible questions the judges may present during the competition. Byrne and the rest of the team are excited to perform, hoping for the best.