Oxford Practical Ethics

Three students from Hasmonean High School for Girls (Ariella G, Batsheva S and Rivka M) signed up to the Oxford University Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and Responsibility competition in December, as it seemed like it would be an interesting thing to do during a lockdown!

For the competition, the girls had to send in a video about how responsibility plays a role in a practical ethics situation. After a lot of discussion, they decided to create a video about how and why responsibility plays a role in society being vaccinated against coronavirus. This subject was chosen as Ariella said: ‘Our Judaism commands us to consider our actions thoughtfully, rather than go through life on autopilot. Practical ethics strives to provide the philosophical tools needed to actualize this commandment and love our neighbours as ourselves.’ They sent the video in and were notified on the 4th February that they had made it to the semi-finals.

The girls are ecstatic about their achievement of reaching the semi-finals and these will take place virtually on March 23rd 2021. As part of the semi-final stage of the competition, they will be joining a day of presentations and activities organised by researchers and staff at Oxford University. The main focus of the day is on debates between the student finalists. There will be two rounds of debate: each team will take part in a semi-final debate, and the winners of those will face one another in the final.

The event will include an Exhibition debate on the topic of ‘Responsibility and Addiction’, and an activity for the students on: Slippery Slope arguments. Following this, the semi-finals will take place in breakout rooms, and the final will be after lunch.

Our girls have the following topic for their semi-final debate: People under thirty have a responsibility to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They will be standing against the motion. Should they make it to the final, the motion will be: Social media companies are responsible for the content their users post online. Again, they are standing against the motion.

This is a huge achievement for these three young women, who have been inspired by the ethical striving of the Hasmonean community. We wish them every success in the finals.

Please click on the links to see the girls in action:


(also known as bit.ly/3ugmGiY) or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk2P1JGcQvli4Ny4hfecKVw