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 question posed about the case? (5 pts)

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 ethical dimensions of the case? (5 pts)

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 pts)

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)

    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 Guidelines

• 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 that 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.

• Judges’ Questions are addressed to teams, not individuals
◦ NEW: Please take less than 45 seconds to pose your question
◦ Keep your own opinions to yourself
◦ You do not have to ask a question if you do not wish to
• Judges should decide on their scores independently, without consulting the other judges.

The winner is the team for which 3 out of 3 or 2 out of 3 judges determined was the winner. Total points do not matter at this stage.

No half points – please use only whole integers.

• If the scoring reveals that 3 judges chose Team A as the winner and 0 judges chose Team B, then Team A wins, and vice versa
• If the scoring reveals that 2 judges chose Team A as winner and 1 chose Team B, then A wins, and vice versa
• If the score reveals that 1 judge chose Team A as winner, 1 judge chose Team B, and one judge gave the teams a tie, then the round is a tie (because each team has one win and one tie).
• If the score reveals that 1judge chose Team A as winner, and each of the other 2 judges though the teams were tied, then Team A wins (because Team A has 1 win and Team B has no wins).

Before the match begins: Judges should maintain a “judicial bearing” towards teams and coaches at all times. Because this is the 7th 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.

NEW: When the moderator is deciding who won the round, please use the small pad in your envelope to jot down notes for the teams you judged. Coaches and students really appreciate any feedback you can give them. At the top of the sheet, note the team name and the round – you don’t need to include your name. And then, if you could comment on each team’s strength and weakness, even if only as a bullet-point list, that would prove very helpful. The moderator will collect these pages from you at the conclusion of the round.

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 ten 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 – which doesn’t mean that they can’t argue, but that they need to argue respectfully.

Included in this score is the extent to which the team that is not presenting conducts itself with decorum and listens to the other team with respect and attention – no eye-rolling, gestures or vocalizations that may indicate disrespect or lack of attention.

If you are not judging a round, please come to Hofstra Hall, the white building in the center of campus, to decompress and have a snack.

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!

Ethics Bowl General Info

General Info

Modeled after the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, the High School Ethics Bowl involves teams of students analyzing a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas.

The Ethics Bowl is about giving an insightful perspective on each case, one that an intelligent layperson should be able to follow. The competition values students’ reasoning abilities, so the emphasis is more on the broader ethical implications of the cases and less on a rule-oriented approach. It’s not about memorizing ethical theories or important philosophers, and teams should not focus on citing philosophers or moral theories.

Ethics Bowl is designed to promote thoughtful, civil dialogue about difficult questions. Teams should score highly when they demonstrate good ethical reasoning, clarity about and consistency in their views, and a willingness to engage thoughtfully with points made by the other team.

Structure of the event

The Ethics Bowl is composed of six rounds: 4 open rounds, a semifinal and a final round. Each round includes two teams (3-5 students per team, with up to two alternates: each team has a maximum of 7 students), three judges and a moderator (as well as any family, friends and other audience members).

Rounds 1 – 4

1.Presentation – TEAM A
To start the round, Team A will announce the question to be answered.
Then, both teams have 2 minutes to confer; Team A has 6 minutes to present its argument
Worth 15 points (divided into 3 discrete questions, each worth 5 points)

2. Commentary – TEAM B
Both teams have 1 minutes to confer, Team B has 4 minutes to comment on Team A’s presentation
Worth 10 points
Note: During this portion of the round, Team B should not present its analysis of the case under discussion, but rather should comment upon Team A’s presentation with the goal of helping to strengthen it by commenting on the presentation’s strengths, noting its flaws, and pointing out what has been omitted or needs further development.

3. Response – TEAM A
Both teams have 1 minute to confer, Team A has 4 minutes to respond to Team B’s commentary
Worth 5 points

4. Judges’ Questions – addressed to the presenting team only, not individual students.
10 minutes; 20 points
Before asking questions, judges may confer briefly. If time remains, judges may ask additional questions. Judges will ask questions of not more than 45 seconds to give students sufficient opportunity to reply.

The judges will make individual scoring decisions for the first case after the question period for Team A. Then the moderator will announce the new case and the procedure repeats with Team B as the presenting team and Team A as the commenting team.

At the end of each round, the moderator will compile the scores and announce the round’s winner. The winner of the round will be the team that is deemed the winner by a majority of judges (either unanimous or 2 out of 3) – not according to total points.

Schedule for the day

Time Event Location
7:45am Registration & Breakfast Multipurpose Room of Student Center
8:30am – 12:15pm Rounds 1 – 3 Classroom Buildings (Map will be provided)
12:15 – 1:00pm Lunch Multipurpose Room
1:00pm – 2:10pm Round 4 Classrooms
2:15pm – 2:40pm Snack Break + 10th Anniversary Celebration Cafeteria and then Multipurpose Room
2:45pm – 3:45pm Semi-Final Rounds Multipurpose Room and Little Theater
4:00pm – 5:00pm Final Round Multipurpose Room

NOTE: Judges not asked to judge the semifinal and final rounds are free to leave after the conclusion of the 4th round though you are most cordially invited to stay, especially for the 10 year celebration that will take place in the Multipurpose Room starting at about 2:15.


First place – winning team
Second place – finalist team that did not win
Third places – two semifinalist teams that did not advance to final round

The three honorary awards below are awarded to teams, excluding winners listed above, that scored the highest on these portions of the rounds:
• Commentary
• Judges’ questions
• Civil Dialogue – the Robert Ladenson Award

The winning team of the final round will advance to the National High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in April. There are 36 regions across the US that hold regional ethics bowls; in 2018, over 5000 students from 480 high schools participated.

The 2019 Nationals will take place on April 5-7, 2019, in Chapel Hill.


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!

Judges Criteria


Judges Guidelines


Judges Scoring Sheet


General Info