• Welcome to SPEC!

    We are a group of students committed to fostering discussion about the tough ethical questions in our everyday lives. We seek to create spaces that are thoughtful, nuanced, non-partisan, respectful, and open-mindedwhere everyone feels free to discuss their thoughts.

  • What We Do

    There is a wide variety of opportunities to get involved with through SPEC, ranging from casual dinner conversations to a formalized ethics competition. We encourage anyone to join us whenever, and for whatever length of time, at any of our events. Club membership is not limited or by application, and you can join us at any point during the academic year (even if it's your Senior Spring)!

    SPEC Dinners

    Every week we meet at a dining hall to have a casual and friendly chat about an ethical issue that interests us. A wide range of perspectives are welcome and no knowledge of ethical philosophy is needed or expected. These dinners are casual and no commitment - come when you want and stay for any amount of time. Past topics include vegetarianism, the nature of good protest, and the ethics of lying to children.

    SPEC Events

    SPEC often invites speakers to talk about key ethical issues that we face on a day-to-day basis. Our speaker events tend to be intimate and conversation-based with lots of opportunities to interact directly with our guest. Past events include topical discussions with guest speakers on issues like voting and democratic representation.

    Ethics Bowl

    Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate academic team-based competition that focuses on thoughtful debate about tough ethical issues. Each team of 5 presents an argument on a given topic, and then answers questions from both the opposing team and the judges about their argument. It's a rigorous time commitment, but an immensely rewarding experience that creates a tight-knit community. Stanford is a highly-competitive team, as we regularly do well at a national level. Tryouts are held autumn quarter.

  • Who We Are

    SPEC was created to promote in-depth discussion of real-world ethical issues, and to help students engage with ethical theory and ethical practice. We're an interdisciplinary group of students, all committed to creating and being part of a community that values ethical inquiry and respectful, thoughtful discourse around difficult issues. Our members come from a wide variety of majors including Philosophy, International Relations, Chemistry, Symbolic Systems, Political Science, and Bioengineering (just to name a few). We welcome anyone and everyone to join, whether for a single conversation or for a full four years. Contact us if you have any questions!

    President

    Ravichandra Tadigadapa '22

    ravi14@stanford.edu

    VP of Campus Affairs

    Sanjana Freidman '22

    sfriedm@stanford.edu

    Ethics Bowl Team Captain

    Sarah Yribarren '23

    sarahyri@stanford.edu

    2019-2020 Ethics Bowl Team

    at Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia

    From left to right: Collin Anthony Chen (coach), Evan Wisner, Sarah Yribarren, Nitish Vaidyanathan (captain), JD Pruett, and Amanda Orbuch.

    2021-2022 Ethics Bowl Team

    at Nationals (held virtually)

    From left to right: Sajid Farook, Cameron Loughney, JD Pruett, Sarah Yribarren (captain), Natalie Feldman, and Bhavya Shah.
  • Ethics Bowl Info

    The Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate competition run by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE), where teams of 3-5 students from various universities present arguments centered around practical moral problems, and based in ethical theory. Stanford Ethics Bowl regularly competes well at the National level, and is a highly competitive team.

    How can I try out for the Stanford Ethics Bowl team?

    Tryouts for the 2022-2023 Ethics Bowl team will be happening during Week 3 of Autumn Quarter. A link will be posted later for signups, as the tryout dates approach. Anyone considering trying out should note that it is a large time commitment, but it is also a very fulfilling experience both from an intellectual and social aspect. No prior experience with ethics or philosophy is required, and we consider all majors equally. Come try out!

    What topics are usually up for discussion during the Ethics Bowl competition?

    The 2021-22 regional cases can be found here, and include topics like: patents and IP laws surrounding vaccines, the expansion of public childcare, the question of statehood in the context of D.C., and the practice of "doxxing" on the Internet. Topics from previous years include: student loan debt forgiveness, ethical forms of protest, journalistic ethics, data privacy, legislation around sex work, predictive policing, cases on animal (and alien!) rights, and many more.

    How do rounds work, and what does the competition look like?

    Rounds in Ethics Bowl are structured to model healthy civil discourse, and are more of a discussion amongst the competing teams than a debate geared towards the judges. Each round takes an hour, with 30 minutes for each team. Each half consists of 4 parts:

    1. Initial Presentation: the presenting team has 10 minutes to present a framework responding to a random question relating to one of the cases.
    2. Objections: the opposing team has 5 minutes to object and point out flaws in the presenting team's argument.
    3. Response to Objections: the presenting team has 5 minutes to respond to the objections, and further elaborate on their argument.
    4. Judge's Q&A: the judges have 10 minutes to ask direct questions to the presenting team about their argument.
    This process is then repeated using an entirely new question from a totally different case, with the two teams switching roles.
     
  • Listen to Our Podcast

    The SPEC Podcast is meant to provide an idea of the types of conversations we have during SPEC dinners and Ethics Bowl practice. We always try to be honest with our individual perspectives and opinions while also brining a sense of open-mindedness and nuance to the important issues at hand.

  • Join our mailing list by sending an email to practicalethicsclub@lists.stanford.edu with "Add me to the mailing list" in the subject line and we'll make sure that you stay up to date!