By JAMES M GEMINO
Manhattanville College’s Department of Philosophy is once again taking an initiative to set exceptional standards for the quality of on-campus events.
The college will host its first Squire Family Foundation’s National High School Ethics Bowl on Saturday, January 30th at Brownson Hall and Reid Castle beginning at 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The early rounds of the event will take place in Brownson Hall. It is also noteworthy to mention that Manhattanville College is the new Westchester Headquarters for the event.
Department Chair Siobhan Nash-Marshall, philosophy professor Paul Kucharski, and philosophy alumnus Jesse Juarez, who is now serving the college as the Liaison to the Chair of Philosophy, will host the event.
The Ethics Bowl will present different teams of young high school philosophers with difficult ethical scenarios. The goal of the event is to stimulate philosophical arguments that will clarify the proper ethical stance or reaction to the scenario itself.
One example of an ethical scenario that students will face is the question of what one should do if one was to hide a young Jewish couple from the Nazis, their Gestapo, and search squads whom are searching for the very people that one was to presumably hide. In this ethical scenario, students must state their positions as to what they believe about the ethics of lying, putting oneself in danger, and protecting the innocent.
Competing teams will respond to the same ethically problematic scenario, and will attempt to define the proper ethical response to it. Teams will formulate arguments that would articulate the reasons why that specific response is the ethically proper one.
It is important to mention that there is a difference between an Ethics Bowl and a debate. The primary difference lies within the students focusing on the ethical issues at hand. What is significant in Ethics Bowls is not demonstrating one’s logical and persuasive prowess, but articulating the reasons why one adopts a specific ethical stance. While teams must take opposite stances in debates, in Ethics Bowls they can agree on the proper response to an ethical problem, while disagreeing with the reasons or arguments given in support of that response.
At the event, a team of over 20 judges comprised of Manhattanville College students, faculty, and staff will use their own training and experience in philosophy to determine the team that formulates the strongest arguments defending its response to each case. Judges will not only decide who earns the Westchester regional victory, but will give the winning team direct access to participate in the National High School Ethics Bowl event hosted in North Carolina.
It is anticipated that 100 high school students from Westchester County will comprise of the teams competing in the event.
Despite not currently being philosophy majors, the participants are known to be extremely passionate about philosophical discussion. For this reason, Manhattanville College’s Department of Philosophy staff members, students, and Bowl judges are all super excited about the college assuming such a prestigious and honorable responsibility.
As previously mentioned, philosophy alumnus Jesse Juarez organized the event. Roberta Israeloff, Executive Director of the Squire Family Foundation, had much to say about Juarez’s work on the event
“Jesse has done some of the most impressive recruiting in the history of the Bowl,” said Israeloff.
“It is humbling and enormously gratifying to see the legacy of the philosophy department passed on and lived by Manhattanville students and recent alumni,” said Nash-Marshall. “I knew that Jesse was capable of it, and he has done a remarkable job. It would surely make Mary T. Clark proud.”
The Department of Philosophy and Jesse Juarez are hoping the college’s participation in the High School Ethics Bowl will strengthen Manhattanville College’s ties to the surrounding community. Department members also hope to use the event as an opportunity to give competing high school students a taste of what Manhattanville College is capable of.
The Ethics Bowl will not only serve the Department of Philosophy by directly exhibiting the talent it helps to cultivate, but will aid the college by providing all the necessary extracurricular events that enthusiastic, young philosophers seek.