Final of the International Ethics Olympiad

Published on Tuesday, 10 August 2021, 9:58 a.m. Print Article

2021 saw Selwyn enter a team in the Ethics Olympiad for the very first time. We were so proud of the students as they made their way through the New Zealand final and into the International one! They can be extremely proud of their 10th placing in the world and we are absolutely delighted for them!

The team comprised of: Luke Cameron-Smith, Sean Hollier, Evelynn Turin, James Boland, Linda Pham and Poppy Jones.

Team member James Boland writes:

Argument is the key to success in philosophy. The International Ethics Olympiad forced us as a team to bring philosophical arguments to key issues facing our generation today: representation in media, defunding the police, fast fashion and sustainability, and COVID-19.  Prior to the tournament, we were required to research philosophical lenses through which we can discuss these issues, such as: utilitarianism, contractarianism, Kant and his categorical imperatives, proportionalism, and much more. Then we were given a question, such as, “How do we weigh the ethicality of striving to achieve a goal against the practicality of achieving such goal?” and then required to unpack it and offer up constructive dialogue in conjunction with another team. Us and the other team were not opponents, rather two interlocutors who, through conversation, were trying to come closer to the truth. Each member of our team chose a separate ethical framework, such as utilitarianism or Kantianism, and then we would each take turns going around discussing how each of our frameworks came to the same conclusion, which, as it was supported by many philosophical frameworks, must be closest to the truth. Our teamwork skills were tested as we all have very strong personalities, however, we found commonality in our drive to succeed, which allowed us to really listen to contrasting perspectives and engage in constructive dialogue. Also, for nerds like us, sitting in a room with other amazing teams and reputable adjudicators was a delightful experience - we are very grateful for being given this extraordinary opportunity. The key insight we all took away from this experience is that arguments are always stronger with more perspectives, whether they be more philosophical lenses or minority views, as more input allows for a more nuanced, thoughtful, and successful dialogue. 

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