Justice Club Explores Philosophical and Ethical Concepts
by Kenneth Larson
Today’s political and social landscapes are consistently filled with references to philosophy, ethics, and moral questions that people are searching for answers to. Starting this year, Northsiders interested in exploring philosophical and moral questions can participate in the Justice Club, hosted and organized by Tian Chen Luo, Adv. 008, and Elizabeth (London) Johns, Adv. 000. “We look at a bunch of different ethical and moral questions” said Johns. “We do low pressure, not really debates, but conversations about each question.”
Johns and Luo explained that each meeting focuses on a variety of different concepts, including the so-called “moral side of murder” (covering topics like euthanasia and assisted suicide), as well as politically controversial ideas such as abortion and war. “Our overarching theme is justice” said Johns, emphasizing the common subject uniting their topics. “But obviously if there is some pressing question… we’ll cover that topic.” In addition to the specific philosophical questions, Johns and Luo also mentioned that the club would further investigate the works of various philosophers and intellectuals, including Plato, Locke, Freud, and others. While optional, students will also have access to a recommended reading list from each philosopher, in order to further explore the ideas discussed during meetings.
Although the Justice Club is a new addition to the Northside club roster, the group has its roots in a middle school version that Luo had created several years ago. When explaining the inspiration for starting the club, Luo mentioned that she had enjoyed discussing philosophical ideas with her former classmates and wanted to expand the concept to a more mature audience in high school. While the club has evolved from its previous internet-based origin, Luo confirmed that it had served as a starting point for the formation of the Justice Club. “We didn’t know what we were doing” Luo said, reflecting on her previous club. “We were sixth graders, but I thought this was something that high schoolers could do.”
During meetings, students should expect engaging discussions covering the diverse assortment of philosophical perspectives at hand. While not wanting to reveal too much information, Johns and Luo discussed a few of the activities that students would participate in, including a “philosophy game” in which participants would attempt to determine a set of beliefs and policies essential for a truly just and equal society. Though the club is primarily focused on getting itself off the ground, Luo also mentioned that the group would hopefully be able to bring in guest speakers in the near future for those interested. In addition, the Justice Club also shares a connection to Ethics Bowl, which similarly and primarily deals with ethical cases.
One of the important points expressed by Johns and Luo was the Justice Club’s emphasis on cultivating enriching discussions and improving a student’s ability to expand their own views. Students who are interested in joining the club should plan on improving their ability to understand differing perspectives, but also to not be afraid to share their opinions about certain issues. “In ethics and philosophy,” said Johns, “there is definitely never a black-and-white, right-and-wrong kind of thing.” Both students also stated that considering differing opinions is fundamental to the the group’s purpose, as otherwise the content would become a bit less interesting and engaging.
While philosophical and ethical theories can at first appear overwhelming, the Justice Club offers an opportunity for students to explore different ways of thinking within an organized structure. While prospective members should expect to have their views and opinions challenged by other Northsiders, they will also be able to deliberate and learn more about how to create a truly just society predicated on these morals. For students interested in joining, meetings are held every other week in room 314a. The next Justice Club meeting will occur on October 25, 2017.