Puget Sound Students Competed in 2019 National Bioethics Bowl

On April 5–6, students on the Puget Sound Ethics Bowl and their coach, Prof. Tubert, traveled to Mobile, AL to compete in the National Bioethics Bowl at University of South Alabama.

The National Bioethics Bowl is a college-level collaborative presentation and debate about pressing ethical issues in biomedicine and technology. Months prior to the competition, each team receives a case packet containing 15 cases about bioethical dilemmas. Each team conducts research relevant to the individual cases and defend a position using ethical reasoning and argumentation. The bowl entails several rounds of debate. In each round, two teams are given time to present their position and argument for a given case they prepared. Following each presentation, teams have the opportunity to hear and respond to replies from the opposing team. Finally, the teams engage in a Q&A session with judges who included professionals in healthcare, government, and philosophy.

Some of the cases the Puget Sound team presented on were about unrepresented patients, CRISPR babies, and therapeutic misconception.

Students reflected on the value of participating in this bowl:

Liam Grantham ’20: “Debating our positions against another team made us stronger public speakers and improved our ability to act professionally (even when we strongly believe our opponents’ position is flawed)…I would definitely recommend the ethics bowl club to other people who are genuinely interested in ethics as much as we are. It sometimes takes a lot to come to a consensus on some of the cases we were given, but if you are passionate about ethics (doing the right thing), then it is absolutely worth it.” 

Colleen Hanson ’19: “Bioethics bowl is … a necessary space to discuss pressing ethical dilemmas in medicine and biotechnology. There will always be a need for people to critically reflect and make decisions on these issues. Bioethics bowl integrates students and experts from various disciplines and backgrounds, providing a robust and diverse pool of perspectives. As such, I think bioethics bowl is an essential activity not only in the types of skills it develops in students, but in the purpose it serves for the greater bioethics field.”

Simone Moore ’20: “…this experience not only helped us strengthen our rhetorical skills, but challenged us to interrogate and apply the foundational philosophical information that we have gathered through our time at UPS thus far. I feel fortunate that I was able to participate in an event such as this, and I hope that I will be able to do it again…”

Holden Chen ’20: The event was certainly competitive, but at the same time, it was one that prompted a deliberative process that goes beyond itself. We now have familiarity with these timely ethical issues and have acquired the skills and knowledge to develop strong positions, but it doesn’t just stop there for us. The very fact that we were challenged at the competition shows that there’s always more to engage with and consider. The ethical discussions don’t stop, and we as ethicist of the now and of the future have come away from the experience with more appreciation for the process.”

August Malueg ’20: “Ethics bowl has helped me develop strong public speaking skills and has made me more confident in my ability to relate my thoughts to others… In Mobile I had the opportunity to meet students from various universities that traveled to the competition (such as Depauw and Loyola Chicago), as well as locals, who were overwhelmingly hospitable and welcoming. I think it is important to keep ethics bowl active at the university and to continue offering students the chance to travel to compete because it not only helps them in the professional and social sense, but also because they have the opportunity to continue to have novel experiences abroad.” 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_19aTop: Holden Chen ’20, Simone Moore ’20, Professor Ariela Tubert, August Malueg ’20, Liam Grantham ’20 / Bottom: Colleen Hanson ’19




Brian Kim ’21 Presents at 2019 Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Brian Kim ’21, a double major in Philosophy and Economics with a minor in Sociology & Anthropology, presented his work at the annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. The conference was held from April 5–6, 2019 in Forest Grove, Oregon. Brian presented his paper, “A Critique on the Historical Interpretation of Pirates.” In addition, his paper will also be published in Res Cogitans, Pacific University’s undergraduate philosophy journal. Here is an abstract of his paper:  

The history of pirates has been relatively underrepresented by historians, allowing two dominant interpretations to set the standard for how we study these characters. These interpretations, the capitalist and Marxist interpretation, have unfortunately been cherry picking factual evidence in order to legitimize themselves. While both have merits, I propose an existentialist framework which captures the strengths of both interpretations while dropping the glaring weaknesses of them. As pirates most often began as oppressed navy sailors or seafaring workers in poverty, their transition to become pirates captures an important case study of freedom and choice. I first sketch a background of existentialism and both why and how it is a relevant and legitimate interpretation of pirates. I will critique the dominant interpretations, then offer the new existentialist interpretation and compare it to the dominant views. Finally, I conclude with the importance of adopting my framework over the dominant ones within the context of producing good historical analysis.
Brian reflected on his experience at the conference by saying:
Overall, I thought that the conference was an invaluable, enriching experience! This was my first conference that I presented at and it was fascinating not only to listen to a plethora of interesting and important philosophical topics, but also to get a further look into philosophy culture and meeting unique individuals from all over the States. It was a good experience to not only go to a conference, learn how to present, and to figure out what to do, but also to practice engaging critically both for my paper and for others. I met some amazing people, especially the students from PacificU, and had an amazing time not only sharing my passions with like-minded individuals, but to also learn about different styles of philosophical thought and practice.
    ​The conference accepted over 50 different papers and was broken into three 2 hour windows. Within these windows, there were different rooms which each had three papers presenting for 40 minutes each. After a paper was finished, you had a brief window to go to a different room in order to see other papers. At the end of the paper sessions, philosopher Susan Haack presented her topic on a metaphysics in response to the over accepted paradigm of scientific realism. An important thing I noticed overall about the conference was on my own stamina to philosophy. I would like to think of myself as deeply passionate for almost any philosophical topic and could easily go hours discussing even the most trivial issues. But I learned that there is an important lesson in pacing yourself and closing conversations in order to pursue other topics. I found this out about myself after hour five of philosophy conversations, with only a few hours of sleep under my belt, that I have only so much mental energy to offer in one day!
    Overall, I would highly recommend submitting papers to every conference you have the chance to submit to as it is an extraordinary experience to venture into the philosophy undergrad culture and to meet some amazing philosophical minds, as they become exceedingly harder to find nowadays!

Summer Course: Introduction to Philosophy

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If you’ll be in Tacoma this summer, consider taking a course in philosophy. Professor James Garrison will be teaching Introduction to Philosophy during Summer Session I (May 20–June 28, 2019). This course satisfies the Humanistic Approaches core requirement. The course description says:


2019 Puget Sound Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Report

From January 31–February 1, 2019, students from the Philosophy Department led the 2019 Puget Sound Undergraduate Philosophy Conference featuring student presenters from around the country. Here are some photos from the event:

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The conference was covered by The Trail, and all accepted papers and corresponding comments are now published in Sound Ideas

Graduating Senior Samantha Lilly Receives the Watson Fellowship

Samantha Lilly ’19, majoring in Philosophy with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Bioethics, is a 2019 recipient of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Out of around 200 students nominated by universities, this prestigious fellowship is awarded to up to 50 students. As described by the Puget Sound Fellowships Office, “in selecting Watson Fellows, the Foundation is most concerned with holistically identifying individuals who demonstrate integrity, imagination, strong ethical character, intelligence, the capacity for vision and leadership, the promise of creative achievement and excellence within a chosen field, and the potential for humane and effective participation in the world community.”

Samantha illustrates the fellowship, her project, and how her philosophy education has prepared her for the project:

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, colloquially known as “The Watson,” is a rare window after college and pre-career to engage my deepest interest on a global scale. Watson Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States for one year and embrace the ensuing journey. They decide where to go, who to meet and when to change course. The program produces a year of personal insight, perspective and confidence that shapes the arc of fellows’ lives. Started in 1968, Watson Fellows comprise leaders in every field.

My project, “Understanding Suicidality Across Cultures” will take me to the Netherlands, Argentina, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Nepal. In each country I intend to understand the tangible ways that different communities and cultures understand suicidality. In other words, my project is driven by my background in philosophy because underneath the hands on work I’ll be doing, I am asking questions that I believe are best answered philosophically: “What makes a life worth living? What does flourishing look like? Can suicide be ethical? Why do people die by suicide? How do we know for certain suicide is wrong? What makes a suicide rational or irrational? And, when is paternalism justified and when is it an infringement on autonomy?”

It is my hope that my Watson Year further shapes my ability to think freely, reason well, and grow as a philosopher and human.

After my Watson year, I intend to pursue a J.D. in Health Law with a special interest on mental health care law in the United States. But, I try not to think about that too much. I want to live in this moment of achieving something I’ve been dreaming about and working toward since I was a wee sophomore here at UPS. There’s honestly not much else I’d like to say except to give thanks and express my gratitude to every professor in the philosophy department for mentoring me and guiding me through this major and ultimately shaping me into the type of person who gets awarded a kick ass fellowship like this.

If it were not for Ariela, I would not have even considered becoming a philosophy major and definitely would have never thought of going to law school. Thank you for being my advisor, mentor, and friend. There is so much more I could say here, but I just want you to know you have changed my life and I am grateful.

I am more ethical (gentler, warmer, and softer) because of you.

Without Justin, I would have never asked the important questions regarding mental illness, the mind, and how we can be certain of our beliefs. Thank you for teaching me how to question and how to articulate my thoughts. I am a better thinker, questioner, and joke teller because of you.

Or, in other words, I am a better version of myself because of you.

Sara, I would have never considered a disability framework for suicidality until I took your class. And, quite frankly, I’d still be writing scattered papers with absolutely no sections (yikes!) if you hadn’t taught me what makes a good philosophy paper.

I am more considerate and empathetic because of you.

Beardsley, oh boy, where to begin? I don’t know where I would be today without 19th Century Philosophy. Your ability to teach and communicate Hegel is I bet pretty unprecedented. I think about this class every day — it has shaped my thoughts about the world around me and has overall given me the words and confidence to speak about the future and the past.

I am more thoughtful because of you.
And, this is out of context, but I also think about souls and owls a lot because of you.

And finally, Sam. I think similarly to Ariela, I cannot thank you enough for the time and effort you have put into my work. You have allowed me the opportunity to articulate how I feel in a way that is constructive and worthwhile.  There are so many things to say and so little time. I suppose I’ll just leave you with this:

I am a better philosopher because of you.

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