In other cases, Simmons said, teams can agree on the conclusion but disagree on the route they take to get there. For example, in the Novartis case, another team could agree that the company's patent should be protected, but argue that the company should license the drug at a reduced cost to make it more affordable to people in developing countries.
Ketring said she likes the competitive ethics format. A senior, Ketring participated in a homeschool debate circuit while she was in high school in Nashville, Tenn., and came to OC on a debate scholarship.
Before she came to the university, Ketring had never heard of competitive ethics. But when a friend told her about it, she liked the idea and decided to try it out. The competitions seem less like policy debates than broader discussions, she said.
“It feels a little more like real life,” she said.
Chas Carter, a team member from Allen, Texas, agreed.
The format of the competitions tends to be more free form and less rigid than debate, he said, so it wasn't difficult for him to adapt even though he didn't participate in debate in high school.
Carter, 20, hopes to go to law school after he graduates from OC. Participating with the team has helped him prepare for that because it forces him to learn how to build and present a coherent argument, he said.
“My public speaking ability has gone up drastically since starting it,” he said. “Anything that's going to sharpen me is good.”