Greetings, all! The first scenario we’ll be looking at in this series of ethical inquiries involves online assignments, difficult homework problems, and the power of Google (or any other web search engine). With this and future cases, we’ll present the detailed scenario with some questions that highlight the ethical difficulties surrounding the case. If you would like to contribute to the discussion by sharing your thoughts, feel free to do so using the comments section below.
It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’re cramped in a study room finishing difficult a Blackboard assignment for class the following
morning. You come across a question that has you completely stumped, and you’re not even sure the professor mentioned anything in class that would help you come up with an answer. Unsure of where to begin, you type the question into Google.
Google, being the heaven-sent wonder that it is, scours the internet and finds exactly what you’re looking for. In fact, it finds the exact question, word for word, and in the short text preview underneath the link, you discover the answer. You follow the link – hoping for an explanation that will help you understand how to solve the problem – and discover the entire assignment, question for question, with all the answers.
Now that you have the answers, what should you do? Is it wrong to use those answers if you don’t end up figuring out how to solve the question on your own?
Would it be wrong to use the answers if it did help you figure out how to solve it on your own?
Is it wrong to purposefully use Google to search for homework questions using the exact phrasing of the question?
We would love to hear your thoughts! Fee free to comment below:
The Taylor University Ethics Bowl Team had its best showing ever in the National Ethics Bowl Competition on Thursday 2/28/13. They came in second by one point in the championship match by a score of 153 to 154 to DePauw University. Taylor defeated the defending national champion, Whitworth, in the semifinal round.
We give our congratulations to the entire team and their coach Jim Spiegel. The members of the team are: Jess Biermann (Philosophy), Nathaniel Cullen (Philosophy), Kasey Leander (History/Political Science), Brianna Leever (Political Science/Developmental Economics), Davis Meadors (Biblical Literature/Philosophy), Suzanne Neefus (Philosophy/ Political Science), Abigail Pollock (Political Science), Sarah Sawicki (Professional Writing), Mark Taylor (Philosophy/Bib Lit), Veronica Toth (Professional Writing), Stephen Weick (Philosophy/History) and Tom Weingartner (Political Science).
Have you ever wondered if it’s right to…
…take a mug from the DC?
…borrow someone’s bike without asking?
…skip chapel for homework?
…exaggerate your experiences during an interview?
Without an ethical framework, these questions become very difficult to answer, and any answers we may end up concocting will be apropos for only the situation at hand. So where does this lead us? Can’t we just forget about all this ethics stuff and follow our gut instincts?
Though our intuitions can be guided by Holy Spirit, the fact that we are fallen creatures means that we are by no means infallible. If our passion is to follow Christ and be image-bearers that radiate His light in the world, we should heed the advice of Proverbs 2 and actively seek the wisdom He freely gives.
The Taylor University Center for Ethics is here for this very reason: that we may, together, guard our footsteps and pursue wisdom regarding everyday decisions, social issues, and professional ethical dilemmas. The purpose of this blog is to foster critical thinking about these topics and provide a central location for the presentation and discussion of issues relevant to the student body.
Throughout the semester, we’ll be posting prompts, asking questions, and facilitating discussions about topics you’re interested in. We encourage you to mull over and pray through the topics pertinent to your present and/or professional future, and, if you would like to contribute to the discussion or ask a follow-up question, to post your thoughts in the comments section.
If you have any questions or topics you think we should address, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below. We look forward to dialoguing with you!
- James Dolezal
This past weekend the Taylor Ethics Bowl team won the Central States Regional Championship! This is their second regional championship in the last three years, and the third in our history (since 2000). But what is even more impressive is that all three Taylor University teams finished in the top four (1st, 2nd, and 4th), out of 20 teams.
The other schools that competed included Belmont U., Butler U., DePauw U., Eastern Kentucky, Indiana U., Xavier College, Wright State U., U. of Southern Indiana, Marian U., Illinois Wesleyan U., St. Olaf College, and the College of Mt. Joseph. The cases debated in the competition, as always, covered a broad range of issues. This year the issues were drug legalization, gay conversion therapy, the ethics of “street art,” racial bias in death penalty rulings, the justice of a student loan forgiveness act, and the ethics of medical experimentation on animals.
At regionals, the top four teams qualify for the national tournament in San Antonio, Texas, which will take place on February 28, 2013. So technically, all three of our teams qualified. But since each school can only send one team (with a maximum of 5 students) to nationals, Taylor will have to select that team from among the 12 E-Bowlers who competed this past weekend. Those 12 students are Jess Biermann, Nathaniel Cullen, Kasey Leander, Brianna Leever, Davis Meadors, Suzanne Neefus, Abigail Pollock, Sarah Sawicki, Mark Taylor, Veronica Toth, Stephen Weick, and Tom Weingartner. The team is coached by professor Jim Spiegel, who is assisted by Cathy Kerton-Johnson.
One of the goals of the Center for Ethics is to help students better understand the foundations of their moral beliefs and apply that to their lives. The PAs who are key student leaders in the residence hall units play a significant role in students learning to understand and live out their faith in the Taylor community. As this school year is beginning the Center had an opportunity to assist in the training of PAs as they prepare to have a positive impact on the students they live with. On Tuesday, August 21, Steve Phillips led a training session on ethical decision making. The training was based on the ideas in the Framework for Ethical Discernment that the Center developed last year. The students were given time to think about what we believe about moral standards and what those standards are grounded in. They also had time to discuss how they would make a decision in a scenario similar to one they may face as a PA. We hope this will be the beginning of a growing relationship between the Center for Ethics and PAs and others involved in residence life at Taylor.
As the Taylor University Center for Ethics has completed its first academic year of existence we have put together an annual report to review what we have been able to begin to accomplish. The annual report is available on the Annual Report page. Please review the report and let us know any ideas you have for how we can help students develop their understanding and living out of Christian ethics.
One of the goals of the Taylor University Center for Ethics is to provide resources related to ethics for the Taylor University community, including students and faculty, as well as anyone else who can benefit from those resources. We have been working on the development of some resources this year and now have two resources available on this web site. Go to the Ethics Resources page listed on the navigation bar above to access our Framework for Ethical Discernment and our Sources of Information about Ethics.
The Framework for Ethical Discernment was developed by the Center for Ethics to provide a basic introduction to Christian moral reasoning and to assist in understanding how to approach ethical decisions.
Sources of Information about Ethics lists web sites, books, journals and codes of ethics that faculty associated with the Center for Ethics have recommended. These sources are a starting place to learn about ethics. We do not necessarily agree with the content of all the sources, but recommend them as a way to learn how others think about ethics.
For the first time in twelve years of competition the Taylor University Ethics bowl team was able to advance to the quarterfinal round of the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competition held at the annual meeting of the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics. They defeated the University of Maryland and Ripon College and lost a close decision to the University of Oklahoma in the opening rounds and lost another close decision to Wake Forrest University in the quarterfinal round.
During their matches, Taylor’s students argued cases that included whether or not the United States was justified in the killing of Osama bin Laden, whether or not a levee should be breached and surrounding farmland sacrificed to save a nearby town, and the ethics of a college professor writing a letter of recommendation for a sub-standard student.
The starting members of the team in the national competition were:
Tim McDermott – Senior, Communications and Philosophy
Suzanne Neefus – Sophomore, Philosophy and Political Science
Jonathan Povilonis – Senior, Biblical Literature and Philosophy
Jenna Stupar – Senior, History
Libby Trudeau – Senior, History and Sociology
Alternate team members were:
Daniel Kasper – Senior, Computer Science and Math
Paul Nurkkala – Junior, Computer Science/Systems
Hannah Warstler – Senior, Philosophy
Sean West – Senior, Philosophy and Psychology
The team’s coaches are Dr. Jim Spiegel and Dr. Jeff Cramer, assisted by Julie Campbell.
Following the meet Dr. Spiegel said, “As always, our team not only performed extremely well but also conducted themselves with grace and respect throughout the competition, both in victory and defeat. So in every respect they represented Taylor University with distinction. As their coaches, Jeff and I couldn’t be prouder.”
At the Central States Regional Ethics Bowl on 11/12/11 Taylor University was the only school to place both of its teams in the top five in the competition. The competition involved 22 teams representing 19 schools. Because of their success at the regional competition Taylor will be one of five schools from the central states region to send a team to the national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl that will be held at the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics in Cincinnati on March 1, 2012.
Participating in the Ethics Bowl competition gives students an opportunity to explore their moral beliefs in detail and learn how to express their moral values in a society that may have very different ideas. Participants have expressed how deeply the experience of being on the team has impacted them in their lives after leaving Taylor.
The following students competed at the regional Ethics Bowl:
Team 1: Tim McDermott–Captain (Senior, Political Science and Philosophy), Paul Nurkkala (Junior, Computer Science/Systems), Maggie O’Connell (Senior, Economics/Systems), Libby Trudeau (Senior, History and Sociology), Sean West (Senior, Psychology and Philosophy)
Team 2: Tom Weingartner–Captain (Junior, Political Science and Economics), Daniel Kasper (Senior, Computer Science and Math), Suzanne Neefus (Sophomore, Philosophy and Political Science), Jonathan Povilonis (Senior, Philosophy and Biblical Studies), Jenna Stupar (Senior, History)
A team of five students from the two teams that competed at regionals is being selected to represent Taylor University at the national competition.
They are coached by Jim Spiegel, Jeff Cramer, and Julie Campbell.
The mission of the Taylor University Center for Ethics is to explore a uniquely Christ-centered understanding of moral truth and its application in the lives of students, faculty, staff, the church, and our world. We exist to help Taylor University better address the critical moral issues of our world and integrate ethics and moral discernment into every part of the university and into the life of everyone in the university community.
As we develop the resources to help accomplish this mission we will be sharing those resources with the university community and others who share our concerns through this web site. Please feel free to subscribe to our posts or contact us for more information!