Welcome to the Judges page! Whether you’re a seasoned judge or a first time prospective Judge for the 2017 bowl, this page contains all the information you need to judge at a High School Ethics Bowl. You will notice in the accordion below there is information regarding scoring criteria

Scoring Criteria for Judges


Part 1:

TEAM A: PRESENTATION (15 Points Total)


  1. Did the presentation clearly and systematically address the moderator’s question?

5 = Crystal clear presentation with all key dimensions appropriately addressed.

4 = Reasonably clear and systematic with most key dimensions well developed.

3 = Hard to follow the argument. Significant dimensions missed (passable).

2 = Serious logical problems or underdeveloped argument (poor).

1 = Incoherent presentation that ignored relevant moral dimensions.

  1. Did the team clearly identify and thoroughly discuss the central moral dimensions of the case?

5 = Exactly identified and thoroughly discussed.

4 = Mostly identified and major issues discussed.

3 = Adequately identified and discussed (passable).

2 = Misidentified some moral dimensions of the case and inadequately discussed (poor).

1 = Misidentified the central moral dimensions.

  1. Did the team’s presentation indicate both awareness and thoughtful consideration of different viewpoints, including especially those that would loom large in the reasoning of individuals who disagree with team’s position?

5 = Insightful analysis and discussion of different viewpoints, including full and careful attention especially to differing points of view.

4 = Solid analysis and discussion of different viewpoints, including careful attention given to differing points of view.

3 = Underdeveloped discussion of different viewpoints (passable).

2 = Minimal consideration of different viewpoints (poor).

1 = Minimal awareness of different viewpoints.


Part 2:

TEAM B: COMMENTARY on Team A’s Presentation (10 Points)

  1. To what extent has the team effectively engaged the presenting team’s argument?

10 = Especially insightful and composed commentary.

9 = Key points excellently addressed.

8-7 = solid response to presenting team’s points.

6-5 = Some points made, but few insights or constructive ideas (passable).

4-3 = Weak or irrelevant response or just asking questions (poor).

2-1 = Failure to respond to presenting team or resorting to personal attacks.


Part 3:

TEAM A: RESPONSE to Team B’s Commentary (5 Points)


How did the team respond to the opposing team’s commentary?

5 = Especially insightful, complete and composed response.

4 = Solid response to commenting team.

3 = Some points are made (passable).

2 = Weak or irrelevant response (poor).

1 = Failure to respond to commentary.


How did the team respond to the judges’ questions?

20 = Exceptionally composed commentary.

19-17 = Key points zeroed in on.

16-13 = Solid response to commenting team’s and judge’s points.

12-9 = Some points are made (passable).

8-5 = Weak or irrelevant response (poor).

4-1 = Failure to respond to commentary and judges.

Points for engaging in Respectful Dialogue, as opposed to Combative Debate (10 Points per Team)

10-9 = Respectfully engaged all parties in exceptionally productive discussion

8-7 = Respectful engagement of other team’s arguments and points

6-4 = Respectful of other team’s argument but only marginal engagement and pursuit

3-2 = Dismissive of other team’s argument

1 = Combative and dismissive of other team’s argument

Judges Fact Sheet

What Every Ethics Bowl Judge Needs to Know (in a 2–page Nutshell)

At the match, you will meet two other judges, a moderator, two teams and two coaches. The moderator will give you a copy of the case to be discussed and the question to be asked about the
case. Students have prepared for the cases but do not know which question will be asked.

Each match has two halves so that each team will have a chance to present its case.

First half of match:

Team A will Present its case for 6 minutes – worth 15 points

  • Did the presentation answer the question?
  • Did the presentation outline the full moral dimensions of the case?
  • Did the presentation explain the validity of other viewpoints even if the team ultimately rejected them?

Team B will Comment on Team A’s case for 4 minutes – worth 10 points.

  • Commenting teams are advised to think of themselves as teachers helping students better articulate their argument. Commenting teams can agree or disagree, can ask for clarification, further examples,
    and point out contradictions, etc. They should address the substantive issues raised by the presenting team.
  • Commenting teams should not:
    • Present their version of the case
    • Ask a series of rapid–fire questions intended to overwhelm Team A

Team A will Respond to Team B’s commentary for 4 minutes – worth 5 points

Judges will then have 10 minutes to ask questions of Team A only – worth 20 points. Questions must be addressed to the team, not individuals. All judges may but are not required to ask questions and, if time permits, a follow–up. At the end of this portion of the match, you will be asked to mark your score sheets.

Second half of match:

The moderator will distribute a new case and question, and Team B will Present, Team A will Comment, Team B will Respond, and you will ask questions of Team B.

At the conclusion, you will be asked to mark your score sheets and determine the winner. The winner will be announced. The winning team is the one that was determined by two of three judges to have won
– regardless of total points. If you scored the teams evenly, announce a tie.

Guidelines During Matches

  • Judges should score based solely upon content, not on whether one person, a few, or all team members speak.
    • Each team decides for itself how to divide up speaking time during all portions of the match. Some teams choose to have an individual “own” a certain case. Other teams prefer to have each person on the team speak for a portion of the match. Teams should be neither rewarded nor penalized for taking either approach. Teams have been advised to explain who will speak at the beginning their Presentation so that everyone has an idea of how the presentation will be structured.
  • Teams do not need to refer to specific ethicists or ethical theories in order to present good arguments. We are asking judges to look for valid, sound arguments which can be made without citing names or theories.
  • Teams should not base their presentation on outside research. Teams have been told that they can use research but need to cite sources; however, reciting strings of “facts” is not an argument. This isn’t the “research bowl.”
  • Sometimes, teams realize that they want to change their “position” as a result of the second team’s commentary. Because the ethics bowl is about ethical inquiry, and because these are high school students, and changing one’s mind can be considered a sign of fluid rather than crystallized intelligence – a hallmark of higher–order thinking – changing or modifying a position is not necessarily negative.
  • Questions are addressed to teams, not individuals
    • Please keep your questions brief
    • Keep your own opinions to yourself.
  • Judges should decide on their scores independently, without consulting the other judges.

Pre– and Post–Bowl Guidelines

Before the match begins: Judges should maintain a “judicial bearing” towards teams and coaches at all times. Because this is the 8th year of the Bowl, many students, coaches, and judges recognize each other from previous years, or may know each other through different associations. When judges greet teams or coaches, it can be construed – though it is not intended in this way
– as bias. Please maintain as neutral a stance as possible when greeting teams and coaches, even to the point of avoiding friendly hellos, so that the other team does not harbor the corrosive feeling that they are the underdogs before the match begins.
After the match: Do not discuss your scoring with other judges, coaches or teams. If teams ask for advice, give them “process” advice: speak more loudly, look at the person questioning you, etc. Refrain from offering substantive advice relating to arguments, etc. This advice can (and did) backfire despite best intentions. You can critique the on the score sheet; they receive your notes.

Refrain from disagreeing with another judge’s scoring, even if asked.

Respectful Dialogue

Finally, teams are scored on “respectful dialogue.” This is to underscore the importance of civil and respectful dialogue, an essential value of Ethics Bowl. Teams that earn five points in this category demonstrate their awareness that an ethics bowl is about participating in a collegial, collaborative, philosophical discussion aimed at earnestly thinking through difficult ethical issues. It is not a contest between adversaries or a combative debate. Teams that score poorly in this category are those that resort to rhetorical flourishes, adopt a condescending, critical tone, and are unduly adversarial.

NB: If you are not judging a round, you are welcome to come to Hofstra Hall, the charming white building in the center of South Campus, where you can relax, have some snacks, and gear up for the next round. If you are not judging a semi–final or final round, you are free to leave after Round 4 (though of course we invite you to stay.)

Judges Scoring Sheet

Please familiarize yourself with the Judges Scoring Sheet prior to the bowl you are volunteering to judge for. If you have any questions please reach out to us at info@highschoolethicsbowl.com and we’ll get back to you ASAP! Thank you, Judges – we literally cannot run the HSEB without you!


These documents correspond to the 3 toggled sections above. Feel free to download them for offline viewing or printing! Copies of these documents will be provided to you upon arrival at the Ethics Bowl location you are volunteering at on the day of the bowl as well. No need to bring anything other than yourself and an open mind! We even provide coffee, breakfast & lunch!