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OU students participate in 'do the right thing' challenge

Six University of Oklahoma students are particularly interested in doing the right thing. To be more precise, they are interested in determining what the right thing to do is.
BY JANE GLENN CANNON jcannon@opubco.com Modified: December 4, 2011 at 1:22 am •  Published: December 4, 2011
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Other team members are Cody Franklin, Jonathan Hagan and Jeff Smith, philosophy majors, and Evan DeFilippis, an economics and math major.

Stephen Ellis, an associate professor of philosophy, and Adrienne Jablonski, director of Student Career and Leadership Development, are the team's coaches.

Twenty-three teams from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma competed in the Texas Regional Competition of the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

At the competition, a moderator poses questions based on a case taken from the set of 15 cases the teams have been allowed to study beforehand. Questions cover ethical problems in areas such as the classroom, personal relationships, professional ethics or social or political ethics.

A panel of judges evaluates answers based on intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations and deliberative thoughtfulness.

“When people go with their gut on ethical questions, they do OK, but this type of debate helps you realize what you're basing that gut reaction on. It solidifies why you think the way you do,” Ellis said.

Sometimes, it changes the way you think, Coker said.

Once a meat-eater, he's now a vegetarian because a debate on animal rights convinced him it was ethically wrong to kill and eat animals.

The debates help students develop their public speaking skills, Ellis said, “but it also leads to good decision-making skills. And, I believe anything that gets you thinking about moral values is good.”

Winners at both the regional and national levels win trophies. Better yet, Keyes said, is the prestige that comes with winning.

“Other philosophy nerds recognize you for it,” he said.