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Ethics Bowl

In 2017, the Philosophy and Religion Department launched an Ethics Bowl program. Ethics Bowl is a collegiate debate competition where teams of between 4-6 students present arguments on specific cases based on normative ethical frameworks and detailed empirical information. In the months leading up to a competition, participating teams receive a packet of ethically complex and controversial cases that will be the subjects of debates. Topics covered in recent competitions include “the Muslim Ban”, “Are rivers people?”, “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement”, and “Fake News”.  The most challenging aspect of Ethics Bowl is that teams must be prepared to argue both sides of a topic or case, since the cases are chosen randomly during each round of competition, and teams choose the position they defend based on the flip of a coin.

The first competition the team attended was the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl Competition at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Students met for four hours every Friday afternoon in the Philosophy department for 8 weeks with advisor Professor Ben Yelle in order to prepare for that debut competition. Then, in Spring 2018, the team prepared for 6 weeks before travelling to Mobil, AL, for the National College Bioethics Bowl, where topics included such things as ‘doctor-patient confidentiality’, ‘should illegal immigrants get healthcare?’ and ‘transgender athletes’.

To support the Ethics Bowl Program, the Philosophy and Religion Department has created a course titled Debating Ethical Issues that is a contemporary moral issues course based on Ethics Bowl cases. In addition to travelling to competitions in 2018-19, Northeastern’s Ethics Bowl team is also planning to host a competition at Northeastern that has a technology and information ethics focus.

For more information about the program, please contact Prof. Benjamin Yelle at b.yelle@northeastern.edu or Kaleem Ahmid at ahmid.k@husky.neu.edu

2018 Northeast’s Regional Collegiate Ethics Bowl

Marist College, December 1-2, 2018



This semester, the Northeastern Ethics Bowl team was once again fortunate to have the opportunity to compete in the Northeast Regional Collegiate Ethics bowl, held on the now familiar and beautiful campus of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.  We were glad to welcome back several veteran debaters into the fold, as well as six first-timers, as this was the first time that Northeastern entered two teams to compete at the regional level.  This year’s cases included some fascinating and challenging topics, including the legitimacy of trans-racialism, whether Amish midwifery should be punished, whether expletives should be allowed on all TV shows, and whether felons should be able to vote.

What was clear from the first team meeting early this semester to the last pre-competition cram in a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria in Waterbury, CT, was the great team chemistry and determination shared by this group of students. This fantastic team spirit resulted in some of the best individual and team performances that we have achieved thus far in our brief history. We recorded out first ever win in this format, which was followed in quick succession by two more wins, including a victory by unanimous decision against the formidable host team. Ultimately, however, we missed progressing to the semi-finals by a point-differential tiebreaker. Still, we left New York high in high spirits, buoyed by our fantastic performance, and we are looking forward to participating in our second National Bioethics Bowl, in Mobile, AL, in the spring. We would like to thank Professor Yelle, Professor Shorey, and the Philosophy and Religion Department for their continued support and commitment to this endeavor.

For more information about Ethics Bowl, including tryout dates, please email Kaleem Ahmid at ahmid.k@husky.neu.edu, or Professor Yelle at b.yelle@northeatern.edu

To see more pictures, click here.

2018 National Bioethics Bowl

University of South Alabama, April 14-15, 2018

Check out more pictures from the competition here.


2017 Northeast’s Regional Ethics Bowl

Marist College, November 11th, 2017

Check out more pictures from the competition here.