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  • Peter Lawrence

Day Six - Immigration and Ethics



After the weekend, we're back! Today, we began the day with a discussion on immigration. We talked first in the abstract of what it means to be a citizen, to be an immigrant, and to be part of a nation. Then we went into the history of immigration and immigration policy in the United States. We focused in on a specific case that would increase the cap on employment-based visas in the United States, and ran through an activity that challenged students to efficiently parse through evidence and compile an original argument in favor of or against a case. Students struggled from this exercise, which was the point - it's a difficult task, even for advanced debaters. However, it is important to hone both of these skills in order to be prepared for the vast majority of debates students have, where they have to think of arguments on the spot and skim through opponents' evidence live-time.

After the mini debates, we broke for lunch, with some students opting to stay inside to avoid the heat, and others eating outside and engaging in physical activities (mostly four square) to get out some energy.

When we came back from lunch, we ventured into ethics. First, we distinguished between meta-ethics, normative ethics, and descriptive ethics. Because normative ethics are the kind most important to debate, we then described different normative ethical frameworks. Looking at consequentialist frameworks such as utilitarianism, non-consequentialist frameworks like deontology, rights-based approaches, and the justice as fairness approach, and virtue frameworks, students learned the basics from core philosophers over the past 500 years.

Once we had talked about different ethical frameworks, we ran different test cases for students to ethically navigate. We looked at variants of the trolley problem, the organ donor, and the lifeboat problem. Students had fun arguing for or against certain solutions, and we eventually made our way through an extended lifeboat problem unscathed (though ethically speaking, a little scarred). It was a lot of fun to run through these scenarios, and to tie in considerations of ethics with former topics we've discussed thus far! Looking forward to tomorrow!


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