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Philosophy Department Sends Team to National Competition

On Feb. 26, five Philosophy students went to Dallas, Texas to compete in the intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, a philosophy competition for colleges and universities with the best analytical and argumentative teams in the country.

Cal Poly's Philosophy Department sent one team to the national championship in Dallas for the first time in the program's short history. The team members are fourth-year Richard Shea, third-year Derek Diemer, third-year Ruby Allen, fourth-year Zackary Dackawich and third-year Ryan McGuire. The team earned their trip to Dallas after finishing in second place at the regional philosophy competition at Chico State on Dec. 3.

"Philosophy competitions are applying what you understand about moral theory to real world issues," said Shea.

Ethics Bowl
Left to right: Ruby Allen, Richard Shea, 
Zackary Dakawich, Derek Diemer, Ryan McGuire





At Ethics Bowl, teams are posed ethical cases by a moderator. The teams are then scored by a panel of judges based on their responses to the cases, arguments for a moral framework and practical recommendations as solutions to the problem.

At the Ethics Bowl in Dallas, the Cal Poly team defeated Indiana University in the first round, tied Lynchburg College in the second round, but ultimately lost in the third round to Youngstown State University.

"The team that beat us in the third round was in the finals both this year and last year, so we were up against the best of the best, and we held our own," said Diemer.

The Ethics Bowl has existed on a national level since 1997, but Cal Poly has only competed for three years.

"Some of these teams have four or five coaches, huge budgets and more time to prepare, and we still beat them in Chico," said Shea. "This says a lot about how awesome our instructors are."

The two coaches for the Cal Poly team are Professor David Zoller and Professor Ryan Jenkins of the Philosophy Department. “Even though our department is small we have some really great professors that really do an amazing job training us in philosophy," said Shea.  

“It was fun and exhausting," said Diemer. "There were lots of early mornings and long hours discussing cases, but ultimately it was rewarding."

The team returned to Cal Poly the day after the competition in Dallas and is already meeting to discuss preparation for next year's Ethics Bowl.

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