Right and wrong

Darla Medley

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Senior philosophy major Darla Medley and three other Chico State students will be traveling to Ohio for the annual Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl on March 5. They have debated their way to becoming one of the top 32 teams in the country to qualify for the national contest. During the competition, each team is given a moral dilemma to discuss, with topics ranging from religious freedom to the rights of the developmentally disabled. After studying the history behind the case and weighing public opinion, the students work together to argue which ethical principles are strongest. They also face questioning from a panel of judges and a counterattack from the opposing team in each round. After spending so much time discussing tough moral issues, Medley thinks that the world would be much better off if we all thought about ethics just a little bit more.

How do you decide what is ethical or not?

There are different ways to look at ethics, but it is basically the study of what is right and wrong. We use the CARVE principal—consequentialism, automony, rights, virtue and equality—to break down which principles are stronger.

What happens when you and your teammates have ethical disputes?

That happens a lot. In class, we split up and have half of us present our side and half give a rebuttal. We sometimes are persuaded by the others on the team, but we are all on the same page at the competition.

Is there someone who you feel is exceptionally ethical or unethical?

It’s easier to choose the unethical one—probably most of Congress. I don’t think Aristotle would be pleased.

Do you have a favorite philosopher?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I am a fan of Locke. I like his libertarian views and theory of justice.

What is one thing you have learned from competing in the Ethics Bowl?

I definitely learned to argue better. I think it has given me an awareness of the complexity of every issue. I found after looking at the pros and cons I would [often] end up the opposite of my initial gut feeling.

What are you planning to do with your philosophy degree?

That’s a great question! I am planning on going to law school and would love to be a prosecutor or judge. I have grown to love philosophy, and it would be cool to be a professor later on.