The Washington State High School Ethics Bowl is a competition in which teams analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas  involving topics such as cheating, plagiarism, peer pressure, relationships, and abuse of social media. An Ethics Bowl is similar to debate, although in Ethics Bowls teams are not forced to take adversarial positions or to hold fast to an assigned perspective. Instead, students have a forum in which to engage in dialogue, and they are judged on the quality of their analysis and the degree to which they engage in a thoughtful, civil exchange. 

Although the High School Ethics Bowl is competitive, it is intended to promote collaboration. Teams do not have to take pro/con positions; in fact, they can agree with each other. They are not required to refute each other’s points, but rather to offer commentary on one another’s arguments. Teams are judged according to the quality of a team’s reasoning and how well team members organize and present their cases, analyze the case’s morally relevant features, and anticipate and preemptively respond to commentary and questions. Judges for the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl are drawn from the local legal, education, and philosophical communities. 

The 2018 competition will take place on Saturday, February 3, 2018, at the University of Washington School of Law. We invite all Washington State high schools to participate.

High school teams typically include three to five students (and can also include a couple of alternates) and a coach (ideally, a high school teacher). We will assign a graduate or undergraduate philosophy student as a resource for each interested school. Each school may enter up to two teams in the competition.

Schools can register below. The deadline for registration is December 15, 2017. We are able to accept up to 24 teams, at which point registration will close. The registration fee is $150 for schools with one team and $225 for schools with two teams. Limited scholarships are available for schools unable to pay the fee.

Watch this Video:

A Coach From A Previous Year Said…


The students could not stop discussing the cases and were thrilled with how much they connected with students from other schools. I just want you to know how much the students enjoyed and were inspired by the event.


Each spring the winner of the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl advances to the National High School Ethics Bowl, held at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In addition, the four trophy-winning teams participate in a “Day in Olympia,” which includes some or all of the following: private tours of the Washington State Supreme Court (and attendance at an oral argument session), Capitol Building, and the Governor’s Mansion, as well as a lunch reception with Supreme Court justices.