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Philosophy and Religious Studies

College of Arts and Humanities

Ethics Bowl

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl (IEB) allows students from Central to debate contemporary social issues with students from other universities throughout North America. Each fall, the national organization distributes a number of cases involving such topics as economic justice, environmental responsibility, and political participation. Members of Central’s IEB team meet to discuss the cases, develop strategies, and have mock debates.

In November, the team travels to Seattle for the regional tournament, where we face off against teams from throughout the Northwest. The top two teams in the regional competition earn places in the national tournament held every year at the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

Ethics Bowl is great for students in any discipline. For more information about the Ethics Bowl, see the following website:

For information about CWU’s team, contact the team’s coaches, Dr. Matt Altman ( or Dr. Michael Goerger (

Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl - 2013

The members of “Moral Kombat,” Central’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team (l-r): Coach Matt Altman, Karen Turcotte, Jeremy Johnson, Douglass An, Joe Ridgeway, Joe Garriott, Coach Michael Goerger, Maxwell Davis, and (front) Dustin Waddle-Ford.

CWU’s Ethics Bowl team competed in the regional tournament on Saturday, November 23, 2013, placing fifth (of twelve teams) and just missing the semifinal round by a few points. It was a day of glorious victories and hard-fought defeats, and when our team left the building, people from throughout Seattle applauded us for our guts and determination. 

Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is a competition in which teams from throughout North America debate pressing contemporary moral issues. This year the cases included HIV criminalization, paying for organ and tissue donations, autonomous cars, and drug patents. There are ten regional competitions, and the top teams in each region travel to the national competition at the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

CWU’s team, named “Moral Kombat,” debated six cases with three different teams. We began the day with a narrow loss to Gonzaga, 124 to 139. Given our strong performance, I can only assume that the team had either bought off the judges or threatened their families. Still, we soldiered on and proceeded to demolish Pacific Lutheran University, 146 to 112. (A member of the PLU team could be heard to remark, “They’re just too good! They’re the greatest philosophical minds since Kant.”) A third match against a team from Washington State University was closer (130 to 113), but all three judges agreed that CWU is better than WSU, both in this competition and in general.

In the end, the CWU team came in fifth and was barely edged out of the semifinals, but finished ahead of teams from the University of Portland, the University of Puget Sounds, and the University of Winnepeg, among others.

The members of Moral Kombat have been meeting twice a week for practice with coaches Dr. Matt Altman and Dr. Michael Goerger, and they have been researching and preparing their arguments outside of practice. All of the team members participated on Saturday and represented CWU well on a regional stage. If you see any of them on campus, pick them up and carry them around on your shoulders. They are: Douglass An, Maxwell Davis, Joe Garriott, Jeremy Johnson, Joe Ridgeway, and Dustin Waddle-Ford. This was the second year participating for Max and Joe R., and the third for Dustin.

In addition to the coaches and team members from Central, our very own Karen Turcotte, senior lecturer in Philosophy & Religious Studies, served as a judge. By the end of the day, people were calling her “The Chief Justice” because of her tough but fair rulings and the air of authority that hangs about her.

One of the most surprising things about the tournament was how many alumni from Central were involved in the regional tournament. In total, seven (!) CWU alumni were involved in either organizing the tournament (Phillip Downes and Allison Radabaugh) or serving as moderators and judges (Ryan Brill, Jimmy-Dean Candella, Casie Dunleavy, Ric Krause, and Christian Mecham). This is a testament to their continuing love of philosophy and the great experiences that they had when they participated in Ethics Bowl themselves.

CWU alumni (l-r): Phillip Downes, Jimmy-Dean Candella, Ryan Brill, Christian Mecham, Casie Dunleavy, Ric Krause, and Allison Radabaugh

Past Ethics Bowls

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