What the Cup is All About

The Ethics Cup has a dual purpose: to promote interest in philosophy among secondary school students and to model and promote civil discourse on issues of public concern.  It is founded on three fundamental tenets: (1) In a multicultural democracy disagreement about important moral issues is inevitable. (2) The members of the public should not shy away from expressing, in the public forum, their convictions on these issues. (3) As a society we could make quicker progress toward reaching mutually acceptable resolutions of these disagreements, without creating resentment and hostility as a side effect, if more entrants in the public debate made use of the philosophers’ toolkit–the attention to logic and fallacy avoidance, the back-and-forth cycle of argument-counterargument-revision, the principle of interpreting one’s interlocutor’s position as charitably as possible, etc.  It isn’t a debating tournament and is designed to reward not the ability to win an argument but rather the ability to thoughtfully advance debates on ethical issues of public concern.

The Cup is modelled after the National High School Ethics Bowl.  We are thankful for NHSEB’s inspiration and for its help in getting the JS Mill Cup off the ground, and we note that much of the text found on this website is copied from NHSEB’s website, with gratefully acknowledged permission.

The Cup first ran, back when it was called ‘The John Stuart Mill Cup’, in 2018, and has run each year since with the exception of 2020. It was renamed ‘The Ethics Cup’ in fall 2021.

The Cup is a project of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, a research centre within the Department of Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews.