The Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics announces...

The 13th Annual

J.T. Barton Jr. Ethics Essay Scholarship Competition


1st Prize: $1,500 Scholarship

2nd Prize: $1,000 Scholarship

3rd Prize: $500 Scholarship

Last year's Winners

The deadline for submissions is 4:30 p.m. Monday April 14, 2014

Winners will be notified by Friday, April 25, 2014.

Your essay should address the question
associated with one of the five cases:

Through a Glass Darkly

“Through a Glass Darkly”

Ever since the invention of the sandal, we humans have artificially mediated our experience of reality, usually with the goal of altering that experience for the better. Shoes, jackets, armor, and the like protect us from rough ground, cold weather, and swords. We have not been content with protection but have sought to experience things in better ways than nature allows. For example, glasses sharpen our vision, but reading glasses magnify what we're trying to see while sunglasses filter out harmful rays. Glasses are a sort of primitive wearable technology for enhancing our visual experience, but they have gradually evolved from being merely wearable to being unobtrusive (contact lenses) to being implantable (phakic intraocular lenses).... (MORE)

Faith Healers

“Faith Healers”

Washington is a traditionally liberal state, particularly on social issues. In 1970, Washington voters guaranteed the statutory right to abortion. The 2009 Death with Dignity Act legalized physician-assisted suicide. Washington law not withstanding, trends in hospital ownership worry many Washingtonians.

Many small, financially troubled hospitals in Washington have been taken over by Roman Catholic healthcare systems. By 2012, one third of Washington’s hospitals were controlled by Catholic systems. That portion was predicted to rise to almost one half by the end of 2013.  Consequently, in over a quarter of the state’s counties, all of the hospital beds will be governed by healthcare policies required by Catholic doctrine....(MORE)

Feel the Burn

“Feel the Burn”

Feeling the pinch of paying ever-increasing health insurance premiums, employers are seeking ways to manage their fiscal pain.   Recognizing the business sense of saving money on premiums and of having a healthier and more productive workforce, employers are looking with new appreciation at different options offered by  the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). One provision of ACA that goes into effect in 2014 allows employers a more lenient approach to use of financial incentives and penalties.   That is, more of the health care premium can be devoted to incentives and penalties for employee health behaviors and health status...(MORE)

Heresy or Heritage

“Heresy or Heritage”

Memphis, Tennessee bears deep scars of the American civil rights movement. Images of the Lorraine Hotel and sanitation workers picketing with placards declaring “I Am a Man” remain vivid in the memories of many here. Now the city is embroiled in a dispute that pits those who seek to honor the struggle of African Americans against others who champion less recent history.

In February 2013, the Memphis City Council voted to rename three parks that honored the city’s Confederate past. Confederate, Jefferson Davis, and Nathan Bedford Forrest parks now bear generic names, i.e. not military, whilst the Council considers permanent ones recommended by an ad hoc Council committee in April 2013...(MORE)

To Bee or Not to Bee

“To Bee or Not to Bee”

Honeybee populations have declined worldwide. In the US, the annual mortality rate for honeybees has been double to triple the expected rate each year for about a decade. Scientists estimate that there are now only about one-fourth as many honeybee colonies in the US now as there were 60 years ago. Agricultural pollination, mainly by honeybees, is essential to crop production. Diminished availability of these pollinators endangers agriculture and the food supply.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a set of symptoms related to a variety of factors, was described in 2006 after beekeepers noticed that honeybees would leave their hives and die elsewhere. Since its identification, researchers all over the world have been trying to save the honeybees...(MORE)

Instructions are available here:


Your essay should address the question associated with one of the five cases:

“Through a Glass Darkly”
“Faith Healers”
“Feel the Burn”
“Heresy or Heritage?”
“To Bee or Not to Bee”

Be sure to indicate clearly which case and question you have selected.

The cases were prepared for the 18th Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. They are used with the kind permission of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, which holds the copyright on them.


Since you’re writing on an ethical question, your essay should concentrate on what should be done ethically rather than what is typical, practical, or consistent with a particular set of religious beliefs.

Ethical reasoning focuses on things like consequences, fairness, and rights. Your essay should address topics like the potential personal and societal effects (or consequences) involved, what would be fair, whether or not people’s rights are being violated.

Keep in mind that there is no one definitive answer to the question. The success of your essay depends on how effectively you state your reasons for the position you take.


Start by identifying the most significant points to be addressed.

Read a variety of opinions on the subject to get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the various points of view.

Construct your own argument based upon the information you find most central, significant, and compelling.

Test your argument by discussing the question with people who disagree with you.

Revise several times, getting feedback after each new draft.

Utilize credible sources and cite all sources using an appropriate citation format (MLA, APA, or Chicago) in accordance with the university’s undergraduate academic integrity policy: Academic Integrity Policy Undergraduate Studies


Essays must be typed (double-spaced) using a twelve-point font. The title page should include the author’s name and contact information, but the text of the paper should be suitable for blind review. Essays must not exceed 1,500 words (a word count should be included on the title page; references and citations should not be included in the word count).

Essays should be submitted in electronic form as an attachment to email, which should be sent to this address: . Early submissions are welcome.


The deadline for submissions is 4:30 p.m. Monday April 14, 2014.

Winners will be notified by Friday April 25, 2014.




The Rutland Institute for Ethics  is committed to

Clemson University’s Academic integrity policies:

Undergraduate Policy

For additional information send email queries to