Dr. Nancy Jones, a Senior Science Policy Analyst at the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, presented the 2015 Walter Randall Lecture on Research and Ethics on Monday, October 19. Her topic was “Navigating the Nexus of Science and Ethics.” She talked about the difference between how science actually works and how it is sometimes perceived. Science is sometimes seen as the ultimate source of truth, but is really a way to model physical reality in a way we can begin to understand it. Science does not have the ability to produce moral values, but is influenced by the values that researchers bring to it. Science is best when it is objective, but objectivity is difficult to achieve. For science to be done well it needs to be done within a moral framework that science itself cannot produce.
This annual lecture series is done in memory of Dr. Walter Randall, a Taylor University alumnus, who returned to Taylor toward the end of his career as a researcher in physiology to include Taylor students in doing his research on cardiac physiology.
The Center for Ethics hosted a Conversation on Animal Welfare and Christian Ethics on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. There were approximately 50 people present to discuss the recently released Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals written by Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Convention, Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Mark Rodgers of the Clapham Group. Our panel of speakers included Abby Skeans of the Clapham Group, Reasa Currier of the Humane Society of the US, Dr. Charles Arand of Concordia Theological Seminary and member of the HSUS Faith Advisory Council, and Dr. Jim Spiegel, professor of philosophy and ethics here at Taylor. The presentations by the panel explored the biblical theology of creation and how that impacts the way we care for animals as stewards of creation and referenced the history of Christian support for animal welfare, while recognizing that the place of human beings in creation is different than that of animals. There was a good discussion between those attending and the panel members following their presentations. If you are interested in the statement we were discussing it can be found at EveryLivingThing.com. Clicking the “sign the statement” button allows you to read the statement and then choose if you would like to sign it.
Students for Ethics has sponsored several student discussions focused on the ethical issues related to current events throughout the year. The most recent discussion on April 22 featured a faculty panel of Dr. Jim Spiegel, Dr. Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, and Dr. Stephen Phillips addressing the issue of religious freedom in relation to the recently passed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. There were over 40 people in attendance and excellent participation in the discussion.
Congratulations to the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team who won the national championship on 2/22/15. They won all three qualifying matches (against Duke, Santa Clara and Texas Pan American). Then they defeated Villanova in the quarter-finals, Indiana University in the semi-finals, and Whitworth University in the championship match. The competition took place at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa, California. 32 teams total, all having qualified by finishing among the top teams in their region. There are ten regions nationwide, with several hundred teams competing across the nation.
The cases topics at nationals were the following (two cases covered per match):
- The ethics of unpaid internships
- The use of ancient artifacts (Roman lead ingots) for scientific purposes
- The ethics of “prescriptive planting” farming technology
- The killing of civilians in war
- Parental rights of rapists
- Artificial intelligence
- Minimum wage
- Horse slaughterhouses
- Stealth (undercover) journalism
- Media use of “crowdsourcing”
- Transgendered people and public bathrooms
Jess Biermann, Senior (Philosophy)
Nathaniel Cullen, Senior (Philosophy and Environmental Studies)
Kasey Leander, Junior (Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics)
Davis Meadors, Senior (Philosophy)
Caleb Nagel, Senior (Political Science)
Mark Taylor, Senior (Philosophy)
Veronica Toth, Junior (English)
Non-roster E-Bowlers who were on the Fall regionals team and made the trip to nationals, supporting the team in various ways:
Kyle Carruthers, Senior (Professional Writing)
Lydia Grace Espiritu (Philosophy)
Jim Spiegel is the coach.
Katie Duncan is the assistant coach, and she led the team in the Fall when the team qualified for nationals.
The Taylor University Ethics Bowl team took second place in the Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl competition on November 1, 2014 which qualifies them for the national competition in Costa Mesa California on February 22, 2015. Taylor University was one of 15 schools competing in the regional competition. The team was coached this year by Katie Duncan. Students on the team include:
Veronica Toth (Junior, English Lit)
Kayla Gotha (Senior, Political Science)
Kasey Leander (Junior, History/PPE)
Joe Kasper (Senior, Chemistry/Math)
Mark Taylor (Senior, Philosophy)
Jess Biermann (Senior, Philosophy)
Nathaniel Cullen (Senior, Philosophy)
Davis Meadors (Senior, Philosophy/Bib Lit)
Caleb Nagel (Senior, Political Science/History)
Lydia Grace Espiritu (Junior, Philosophy)
Seth Brandle (Junior, Political Science)
Blair Hedges (Sophomore, English)
Stephen Weick (Senior, Philosophy)
The Center for Ethics has developed a statement titled “Integration of Faith and Living at Taylor University: Why an Emphasis on Ethics is Essential to Taylor University’s Mission” that discusses why a focus on ethics and helping students develop Christian moral character is essential to the mission of Taylor University. This statement has been presented to and approved by the Provost council of the university. You can read the statement by clicking on the title or find a link on our Ethics Resources page.
Congratulations to the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team. This past Saturday, November 9, the they won the regional championship for the second consecutive year and for the 3rd time in the last four years. This qualifies Taylor to compete in the national Ethics Bowl competition which is scheduled for February 27, 2014 and will be held at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. Taylor University will be one of 32 schools in the national competition with each school allowed to enter just one team. Taylor University entered three teams in the regional competition and placed first, third and fifth. Our teams had a combined record of 8 wins and 1 loss.
Twenty teams participated in this year’s Central States Regional competition. The other schools involved were Bellarmine University, Belmont University (two teams), Butler University, College of Mount St. Joseph (two teams) DePauw University (two teams), Eastern Kentucky University, Illinois Wesleyan University (two teams), Indiana University, Ivy Tech Community College, Marian University, Northern Kentucky University, University of Louisville, and Xavier University.
The members of the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team who competed were:
Suzanne Neefus (Senior, Philosophy)
Stephen Weick (Junior, Philosophy/History)
Joe Kasper (Junior, Chemistry/Math)
Blair Hedges (Freshman, Political Science)
Team 2 (first pace in the regional competition):
Nathaniel Cullen (Junior, Philosophy/Env. Studies)
Kyle Carruthers (Junior, Philosophy/Pro Writing)
Davis Meadors (Junior, Biblical Literature/Philosophy)
Lydia Grace Espiritu (Sophomore, Philosophy)
Jess Biermann (Junior, Philosophy)
Kasey Leander (Sophomore, History/Political Science)
Mark Taylor (Junior, Philosophy/Biblical Literature)
Veronica Toth (Sophomore, English Literature)
The cases debated at this year’s competition were excruciating as always, including the following:
Should bone marrow extraction and transplantation continue to be governed by the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984?
Should a particular business owner disclose his employees’ salaries when giving them the rationale for his company’s budget cuts?
If autonomous (computer-guided, self-driving) cars become standardized, should humans be forbidden by law to drive?
Do American consumers have a moral duty to find alternatives to clothing produced in sweat shops?
Other cases pertained to issues as wide ranging as surrogate motherhood, animal welfare issues, and child obesity public service commercials.
After 2 years of existing as a virtual entity at Taylor University, the Center for Ethics now has our own office. We are located in room 132 in the Euler Science Complex. The office is inside a larger common space that we share with the new Public Health program and the Office of Sponsored Programs which oversees research at the university that is funded by outside sources. The common space will provide a place for students interested in working with the Center to gather to work on projects to engage other students in thinking about their moral values. The proximity to the Public Health program and Office of Sponsored Programs should help facilitate that ways we can interact with them. We are already planning to work with the Office of Sponsored Programs on the training in the proper conduct of research that they provide for students engaged in research projects.
Feel free drop by and say hello. I am in the office most mornings, and the common space is available for use all day.
Chair of the Taylor University Center for Ethics