About Moral Forum

Goals of Moral Forum

Striving to foster both open-mindedness and conviction, Moral Forum seeks to help students distinguish between reasoned judgments versus uniformed bias. Moral Forum is designed to address the most difficult challenges facing the promotion of moral development during the college years, including:

•Understanding the grounds for evaluating moral claims & engaging in moral discourse,

•Working to move students beyond both oversimplified absolutes & moral relativism,

•Instilling an increased sense of responsibility to engage in & respond to moral issues,

•Supporting the transfer of learning to contexts beyond the classroom.


Principal Activities

Moral Forum participants collaborate and compete in teams of two.  Each team works out both sides of a controversial “moral” resolution. As teams conduct research and write position statements, all are required to attend an eight-part lecture series in preparation for two required preliminary debate rounds taking place in November.

Each team must be prepared to argue both affirmative and negative sides of the same resolution. Concerned with constructing and presenting a logical argument with evidentiary support, each team must also provide the moral/ethical context in which the argument is established, along with an acknowledgment of any ambiguity present in the moral analysis. Debates also include two cross examination rounds and a summary focus round in which debaters present a persuasive final restatement. Judges include UA faculty, alumni, graduate/law students, and community leaders.

Program Components

Ethical Argumentation Lecture – The basics of moral argumentation, including logic and reasoning, structuring and organizing persuasive arguments, moral philosophy, and meta-ethical approaches to argumentation are taught.

Topic-specific Speaker Forum – Notable national figures and UA professors with topic-specific expertise will speak to students and answer questions.

Preliminary Rounds of Debate Competition – Participation in both an affirmative and negative round of debate fulfills the requirement of Honors College students.

University-wide Tournament – The tournament culminates in a publicly held final debate in November. Significant scholarship awards will be provided for teams progressing to the semi-final and final rounds of the tournament, as well as to individual debaters who distinguish themselves during the competition.