Audience to determine winner of 'Pennies for your Thoughts' debate

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October 29, 2013

In the second annual "Pennies for Your Thoughts" debate, participants will be asked to literally put their two cents in.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, four College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University professors will participate in a "Pennies for Your Thoughts" debate to argue the question that "immense wealth used primarily for personal purposes is immoral." The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU, and is free and open to the public.

The debate has a unique format. Audience members will be given two pennies when they arrive. At the beginning of the debate, they will be asked to vote with one of their pennies about the statement. At the end of the debate, the audience will vote again with the second penny. The winning side will be determined by the amount of shift that occurs from one side to the other.

Emily Esch, associate professor of philosophy, and Daniel Finn, professor of economics and theology and Clemens Chair in Economics and the Liberal Arts, will defend the claim. Robert Bell, assistant professor of accounting and finance, and Philip Kronebusch, professor of political science, will argue against it. Anthony Cunningham, professor of philosophy and director of the CSB and SJU Honors Program, will moderate the debate.

This year's topic deals with the continuing effects of the recessions, especially the growing gap between the rich and the poor. The topic is "both timely and important" according to Cunningham.

"The goal of this debate is to make people think seriously about what we owe each other in terms of meeting essential human needs," a question which Cunningham says "transcends any particular religious tradition." It is especially important to CSB and SJU as part of the Benedictine tradition, he added.

Last year's Pennies for Your Thoughts debate questioned whether the full-face veil harms women.

The event is sponsored by the CSB and SJU Honors Program.