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The Power of Ethics

March 25, 2010

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From left, standing, Nalini Kalanadhabhatta, Cameron Waldman and from left seated, faculty adviser Bonnie Steinbock, and Vala Thoroddsdottir

From left, standing, Nalini Kalanadhabhatta, Cameron Waldman and from left seated, faculty adviser Bonnie Steinbock, and Vala Thoroddsdottir. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

UAlbany students are engaged in weighing the pros and cons of some of the thorniest real-life ethical issues in society today:

  • Must a wife remain trapped in a loveless marriage because her case doesn't fit neatly into the criteria for a divorce in New York State?
  • Should a woman have auctioned her virginity to the highest bidder to pay for graduate school after her father absconded with her student loan money?
  •  Does a high school student newspaper have the freedom of speech to report on the issue of "hooking up" for casual sex among its students?

These are a few of the cases prepared for the national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 4, where UAlbany students competed for the  first time. Some of the students will travel to Puget Sound in Washington to join the Bioethics Bowl on March 26. The bowl is part of the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference.

Among the team members are Cameron Waldman, a philosophy/bioethics major who grew up on the eastern end of Long Island and moved to Reno, Nev. when he was 10; Nalini Kalanadhabhatta, a senior psychology and biology major from New Hyde Park, N.Y.; David Kim, a junior philosophy and economics major from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.; and Christian Coyne, a sophomore philosophy major from Amsterdam, N.Y. UAlbany student Vala Thoroddsdottir participated in the Ethics Bowl in Cincinnati.

"Ethics is extremely empowering," said Waldman, a junior in the Honors College. Not only has it offered Waldman a critical focus for studying today's major issues and a foundation for his future, but it has also led him and other UAlbany students to a national stage in the collegiate ethics field.

"I'll be at that meeting and look forward to supporting Minerva's Owls," said philosophy professor Bonnie Steinbock, who has been instrumental in their success, along with faculty members Jon Mandle and Kristen Hessler.

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