e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | April 5, 2013 Twitter Facebook

Philosophy department gets off to a fast start in spring semester

Members of the ethics debate team from left: Sarah Baiardi '16, Kelsy Adams '14, Dr. Bernie Cantens, Michelle Mason '16, and Colton Krial '15.

Photo by Alex Sestok '16

Moravian’s department of philosophy took the spring semester by storm, beginning with the Seventeenth Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Championship, organized by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. The debate was held on February 28t, in San Antonio, Texas. This was the first year the Moravian College Debate Team made it to the national competition.

“Moravian first competed against Loyola University of Chicago and tied. Next, we went up against Oklahoma Christian and lost by about six or eight points. Last, we went up against Westminister College and lost by a single point. The winners of the championship were the students from DePauw University,” says debate team member, Catherine Makoski ’14.

The 31 teams that competed in addition to Moravian were The Citadel, U.S. Naval Academy, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of British Columbia, University of California, University of Maryland, University of North Florida, University of Oklahoma, University of Tampa,  Loyola University of Chicago, Metropolitan State University of Denver, SUNY Buffalo State, California State, Colgate, DePauw, Georgetown, Illinois Wesleyan, Oakland, Oklahoma Christian, Oklahoma City, Stamford, San Jose State, Taylor, Utah State, Villanova, Whitworth    universities and St. Mary's College of Maryland, Harper, Ripon, St. Olaf and Westminister colleges.

Even though the Moravian students did not win the competition, they enjoyed their time in San Antonio. “Kelsy, Sarah, Michelle, and I all had a great time, both in the competition and exploring San Antonio. We all prepared to the best of our ability the night before the competition with Dr. Moeller. We really feel that we gave each of our opponents a run for their money. It was such a great time being able to meet and talk with some of the brightest students from all around the country,” says Makoski.

“The team will continue to improve year after year, and may gain more students due to the fact that Dr. Cantens will award students academic credit for participating in the event. The debate team hopes to one day win the championship,” says Makoski. 

To learn more about the Ethics Bowl, visit the APPE website at


The philosophy department also hosted an open house on March 13. Bernard Cantens, chair and associate professor, discussed the philosophy major and minor, the new ethics minor, debate team, summer trip to Spain, undergraduate philosophy conference, philosophy club, Phi Sigma Tau honor society, and Honors, independent studies and SOAR projects.

“The open house for the philosophy department gave the students an opportunity to meet the faculty and learn more about the various exciting programs our department offers,” says Cantens. 

The department recently added the ethics minor, consisting of five course units, to its curriculum. There are three required courses and nine electives to choose from.

“This degree will be very attractive for many of our business, accounting and nursing students, but it can also be an excellent degree that will complement many other majors, such as history and political science,” he says.

He adds that a student who minors in ethics will learn to deepen their knowledge of ultimate questions, improve their reasoning about moral dilemmas, appear more attractive to potential employers, graduate, medical, and law schools, and are overall more successful in the workforce. The minor has many advantages, and will prove beneficial to current Moravian students.

Three days later, the philosophy department hosted the fourth annual Moravian College Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, the largest, to date.

“The topics discussed this year ranged from metaphysics to global and environmental ethics to feminist theory to what authentic art is. Each of this year’s presenters gave dynamic talks that drew the audience in and lead to real discussion throughout the day,” says Kathryn Miller ’13, one of the students organizing the event.

Eighteen speakers presented on six different panels: Aesthetics, Religion, Ancient, Language and Literature, Environmental Ethics, and Metaphysics.

Along with Miller, Madison Zebrine ’13, and Kasey Smith ‘12 organized and ran the conference. Program coordinators Miller and Zebrine not only prepared the event, but spoke on the panels as well. Miller discussed her paper on Fortinbras the Moral Center of Hamlet: An Analysis of Hamlet Using Aristotelian Ethics during the fourth panel. Zebrine closed the conference with her paper On Bundle Theory.

“The Conference was a fantastic success this year after a lot of hard work and planning. The professors and an outside volunteer, Chris Ulicny, were also essential to this year’s conference,” says Miller. “It is a program that we can be proud to call a part of Moravian's mission of education.”