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  • Ollie Rourke

Day Six - Welcome Back


Welcome to the second week of the Lexington Debate Institute! This blog is still describing the general experiences of students at the camp, but it is important to note that the labs are beginning to diverge in activities, as different age groups are working at varied paces and we are adjusting activities accordingly. If there are any specific questions about what your child learned each day, please feel free to email us at lexdebateinstitute@gmail.com and we'll be happy to refer you to their specific instructors.


We started the day off by reviewing our flowing skills! Instructors presented an example case on the resolution “Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.” They used debate-style public speaking techniques while the students recorded their arguments. We went over some of the key skills for flowing such as organization, concision, and abbreviation.


As well, we had an ethics discussion. The labs spent time on ethical frameworks, discussing utilitarianism and deontology. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist ethic that states that action is right insofar as it promotes societal wellbeing. Deontological ethics are more intent-based and promote that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules. The older lab had the chance to delve into more difficult thought experiments, where we distinguished between normative ethics, the study of what ought be done, and descriptive ethics, the study of how we use ethics given structural conditions of society.


After lunch, we discussed the Trolley Problem - a classic ethical dilemma: You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track, and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track. You have two options:

1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.

2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

This thought experiment demonstrates that “right” choice depends on one’s moral framework - utilitarianism or deontology.


We also continued diving into research on the IoT topic! We gave the students some independent time to work through news articles, university studies, and other online resources pertaining to the topic. Afterwards, the students were able to put their skills and knowledge to test with another practice debate!


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