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  • Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 "THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER"
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Funding for this program is provided by: Additional funding provided by This is a course about Justice and we begin with a story suppose you're the driver of a trolley car, and your trolley car is hurdling down the track at sixty miles an hour and at the end of the track you notice five workers working on the track you tried to stop but you can't your brakes don't work you feel desperate because you know that if you crash into these five workers they will all die let's assume you know that for sure and so you feel helpless until you notice that there is off to the right a side track at the end of that track there's one worker working on track you're steering wheel works so you can turn the trolley car if you want to onto this side track killing the one but sparing the five. Here's our first question what's the right thing to do? What would you do? Let's take a poll, how many would turn the trolley car onto the side track? How many wouldn't? How many would go straight ahead keep your hands up, those of you who'd go straight ahead. A handful of people would, the vast majority would turn let's hear first now we need to begin to investigate the reasons why you think it's the right thing to do. Let's begin with those in the majority, who would turn to go onto side track? Why would you do it, what would be your reason? Who's willing to volunteer a reason? Go ahead, stand up. Because it can't be right to kill five people when you can only kill one person instead. it wouldn't be right to kill five if you could kill one person instead that's a good reason that's a good reason who else? does everybody agree with that reason? go ahead. Well I was thinking it was the same reason it was on 9/11 we regard the people who flew the plane who flew the plane into the Pennsylvania field as heroes because they chose to kill the people on the plane and not kill more people in big buildings. So the principle there was the same on 9/11 it's tragic circumstance, but better to kill one so that five can live is that the reason most of you have, those of you who would turn, yes? Let's hear now from those in the minority those who wouldn't turn. Well I think that same type of mentality that justifies genocide and totalitarianism in order to save one type of race you wipe out the other. so what would you do in this case? You would to avoid the horrors of genocide you would crash into the five and kill them? Presumably yes. okay who else? That's a brave answer, thank you. Let's consider another trolley car case and see whether those of you in the majority want to adhere to the principle, better that one should die so that five should live. This time you're not the driver of the trolley car, you're an onlooker standing on a bridge overlooking a trolley car track and down the track comes a trolley car at the end of the track are five workers the brakes don't work the trolley car is about to careen into the five and kill them and now you're not the driver you really feel helpless until you notice standing next to you leaning over the bridge is it very fat man. And you could give him a shove he would fall over the bridge onto the track right in the way of the trolley car he would die but he would spare the five. Now, how many would push the fat man over the bridge? Raise your hand. How many wouldn't? Most people wouldn't. Here's the obvious question, what became of the principle better to save five lives even if it means sacrificing one, what became of the principal that almost everyone endorsed in the first case I need to hear from someone who was in the majority in both cases is how do you explain the difference between the two? The second one I guess involves an active choice of pushing a person and down which I guess that that person himself would otherwise not have been involved in the situation at all and so to choose on his behalf I guess to involve him in something that he otherwise would have this escaped is I guess more than what you have in the first case where the three parties, the driver and the two sets of workers are already I guess in this situation. but the guy working, the one on the track off to the side he didn't choose to sacrifice his life any more than the fat guy did, did he? That's true, but he was on the tracks. this guy was on the bridge. Go ahead, you can come back if you want. Alright, it's a hard question but you did well you did very well it's a hard question. who else can find a way of reconciling the reaction of the majority in these two cases? Yes? Well I guess in the first case where you have the one worker and the five it's a choice between those two, and you have to make a certain choice and people are going to die because of the trolley car not necessarily because of your direct actions. The trolley car is a runway, thing and you need to make in a split second choice whereas pushing the fat man over is an actual act of murder on your part you have control over that whereas you may not have control over the trolley car. So I think that it's a slightly different situation. Alright who has a reply? Is that, who has a reply to that? no that was good, who has a way who wants to reply? Is that a way out of this? I don't think that's a very good reason because you choose either way you have to choose who dies because you either choose to turn and kill a person which is an act of conscious thought to turn, or you choose to push the fat man over which is also an active conscious action so either way you're making a choice. Do you want to reply? Well I'm not really sure that that's the case, it just still seems kind of different, the act of actually pushing someone over onto the tracks and killing them, you are actually killing him yourself, you're pushing him with your own hands you're pushing and that's different than steering something that is going to cause death into know it doesn't really sound right saying it now when I'm up here. No that's good, what's your name? Andrew. Andrew and let me ask you this question Andrew, suppose standing on the bridge next to the fat man I didn't have to push him, suppose he was standing over a trap door that I could open by turning a steering wheel like that would you turn it? For some reason that still just seems more more wrong. I mean maybe if you just accidentally like leaned into this steering wheel or something like that or but, or say that the car is hurdling towards a switch that will drop the trap then I could agree with that. Fair enough, it still seems wrong in a way that it doesn't seem wrong in the first case to turn, you say An in another way, I mean in the first situation you're involved directly with the situation in the second one you're an onlooker as well. So you have the choice of becoming involved or not by pushing the fat man. Let's forget for the moment about this case, that's good, but let's imagine a different case. This time your doctor in an emergency room and six patients come to you they've been in a terrible trolley car wreck five of them sustained moderate injuries one is severely injured you could spend all day caring for the one severely injured victim, but in that time the five would die, or you could look after the five, restore them to health, but during that time the one severely injured person would die. How many would save the five now as the doctor? How many would save the one? Very few people, just a handful of people. Same reason I assume, one life versus five. Now consider another doctor case this time you're a transplant surgeon and you have five patients each in desperate need of an organ transplant in order to survive on needs a heart one a lung, one a kidney, one a liver and the fifth a pancreas. And you have no organ donors you are about to see you them die and then it occurs to you that in the next room there's a healthy guy who came in for a checkup. and he is you like that and he's taking a nap you could go in very quietly yank out the five organs, that person would die but you can save the five. How many would do it? Anyone? How many? Put your hands up if you would do it. Anyone in the balcony? You would? Be careful don't lean over too much How many wouldn't? All right. What do you say, speak up in the balcony, you who would yank out the organs, why? I'd actually like to explore slightly alternate possibility of just taking the one of the five he needs an organ who dies first and using their four healthy organs to save the other four That's a pretty good idea. That's a great idea except for the fact that you just wrecked the philosophical point. Let's step back from these stories and these arguments to notice a couple of things about the way the arguments have began to unfold. Certain moral principles have already begun to emerge from the discussions we've had and let's consider what those moral principles look like the first moral principle that emerged from the discussion said that the right thing to do the moral thing to do depends on the consequences that will result from your action at the end of the day better that five should live even if one must die. That's an example of consequentialist moral reasoning. consequentialist moral reasoning locates morality in the consequences of an act. In the state of the world that will result from the thing you do but then we went a little further, we considered those other cases and people weren't so sure about consequentialist moral reasoning when people hesitated to push the fat man over the bridge or to yank out the organs of the innocent patient people gestured towards reasons having to do with the intrinsic quality of the act itself. Consequences be what they may. People were reluctant people thought it was just wrong categorically wrong to kill a person an innocent person even for the sake of saving five lives, at least these people thought that in the second version of each story we reconsidered so this points a second categorical way of thinking about moral reasoning categorical moral reasoning locates morality in certain absolute moral requirements in certain categorical duties and rights regardless of the consequences. We're going to explore in the days and weeks to come the contrast between consequentialist and categorical moral principles. The most influential example of consequential moral reasoning is utilitarianism, a doctrine invented by Jeremy Bentham, the eighteenth century English political philosopher. The most important philosopher of categorical moral reasoning is the eighteenth century German philosopher Emmanuel Kant. So we will look at those two different modes of moral reasoning assess them and also consider others. If you look at the syllabus, you'll notice that we read a number of great and famous books. Books by Aristotle John Locke Emanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and others. You'll notice too from the syllabus that we don't only read these books, we also all take up contemporary political and legal controversies that raise philosophical questions. We will debate equality and inequality, affirmative action, free speech versus hate speech, same sex marriage, military conscription, a range of practical questions, why not just to enliven these abstract and distant books but to make clear to bring out what's at stake in our everyday lives including our political lives, for philosophy. So we will read these books and we will debate these issues and we'll see how each informs and illuminates the other. This may sound appealing enough but here I have to issue a warning, and the warning is this to read these books in this way, as an exercise in self-knowledge, to read them in this way carry certain risks risks that are both personal and political, risks that every student of political philosophy have known. These risks spring from that fact that philosophy teaches us and unsettles us by confronting us with what we already know. There's an irony the difficulty of this course consists in the fact that it teaches what you already know. It works by taking what we know from familiar unquestioned settings, and making it strange. That's how those examples worked worked the hypotheticals with which we began with their mix of playfulness and sobriety. it's also how these philosophical books work. Philosophy estranges us from the familiar not by supplying new information but by inviting and provoking a new way of seeing but, and here's the risk, once the familiar turns strange, it's never quite the same again. Self-knowledge is like lost innocence, however unsettling you find it, it can never be unthought or unknown what makes this enterprise difficult but also riveting, is that moral and political philosophy is a story and you don't know where this story will lead but what you do know is that the story is about you. Those are the personal risks, now what of the political risks. one way of introducing of course like this would be to promise you that by reading these books and debating these issues you will become a better more responsible citizen. You will examine the presuppositions of public policy, you will hone your political judgment you'll become a more effective participant in public affairs but this would be a partial and misleading promise political philosophy for the most part hasn't worked that way. You have to allow for the possibility that political philosophy may make you a worse citizen rather than a better one or at least a worse citizen before it makes you a better one and that's because philosophy is a distancing even debilitating activity And you see this going back to Socrates there's a dialogue, the Gorgias in which one of Socrates’ friends Calicles tries to talk him out of philosophizing. calicles tells Socrates philosophy is a pretty toy if one indulges in it with moderation at the right time of life but if one pursues it further than one should it is absolute ruin. Take my advice calicles says, abandon argument learn the accomplishments of active life, take for your models not those people who spend their time on these petty quibbles, but those who have a good livelihood and reputation and many other blessings. So Calicles is really saying to Socrates quit philosophizing, get real go to business school and calicles did have a point he had a point because philosophy distances us from conventions from established assumptions and from settled beliefs. those are the risks, personal and political and in the face of these risks there is a characteristic evasion, the name of the evasion is skepticism. It's the idea well it goes something like this we didn't resolve, once and for all, either the cases or the principles we were arguing when we began and if Aristotle and Locke and Kant and Mill haven't solved these questions after all of these years who are we to think that we here in Sanders Theatre over the course a semester can resolve them and so maybe it's just a matter of each person having his or her own principles and there's nothing more to be said about it no way of reasoning that's the evasion. The evasion of skepticism to which I would offer the following reply: it's true these questions have been debated for a very long time but the very fact that they have reoccurred and persisted may suggest that though they're impossible in one sense their unavoidable in another and the reason they're unavoidable the reason they're inescapable is that we live some answer to these questions every day. So skepticism, just throwing up their hands and giving up on moral reflection, is no solution Emanuel Kant described very well the problem with skepticism when he wrote skepticism is a resting place for human reason where it can reflect upon its dogmatic wanderings but it is no dwelling place for permanent settlement. Simply to acquiesce in skepticism, Kant wrote, can never suffice to overcome the restless of reason. I've tried to suggest through theses stories and these arguments some sense of the risks and temptations of the perils and the possibilities I would simply conclude by saying that the aim of this course is to awaken the restlessness of reason and to see where it might lead thank you very much. Like, in a situation that desperate, you have to do what you have to do to survive. You have to do what you have to do you? You've gotta do What you gotta do. pretty much, If you've been going nineteen days without any food someone has to take the sacrifice, someone has to make the sacrifice and people can survive. Alright that's good, what's your name? Marcus. Marcus, what do you say to Marcus? Last time we started out last time with some stores with some moral dilemmas about trolley cars and about doctors and healthy patients vulnerable to being victims of organ transplantation we noticed two things about the arguments we had one had to do with the way we were arguing it began with our judgments in particular cases we tried to articulate the reasons or the principles lying behind our judgments and then confronted with a new case we found ourselves re-examining those principles revising each in the light of the other and we noticed the built-in pressure to try to bring into alignment our judgments about particular cases and the principles we would endorse on reflection we also noticed something about the substance of the arguments that emerged from the discussion. We noticed that sometimes we were tempted to locate the morality of an act in the consequences in the results, in the state of the world that it brought about. We called is consequentialist moral reason. But we also noticed that in some cases we weren't swayed only by the results sometimes, many of us felt, that not just consequences but also the intrinsic quality or character of the act matters morally. Some people argued that there are certain things that are just categorically wrong even if they bring about a good result even if they save five people at the cost of one life. So we contrasted consequentialist moral principles with categorical ones. Today and in the next few days we will begin to examine one of the most influential versions of consequentialist moral theory and that's the philosophy of utilitarianism. Jeremy Bentham, the eighteenth century English political philosopher gave first the first clear systematic expression to the utilitarian moral theory. And Bentham's idea, his essential idea is a very simple one with a lot of morally intuitive appeal. Bentham's idea is the following the right thing to do the just thing to do it's to maximize utility. What did he mean by utility? He meant by utility the balance of pleasure over pain, happiness over suffering. Here's how we arrived at the principle of maximizing utility. He started out by observing that all of us all human beings are governed by two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. We human beings like pleasure and dislike pain and so we should base morality whether we are thinking of what to do in our own lives or whether as legislators or citizens we are thinking about what the law should be, the right thing to do individually or collectively is to maximize, act in a way that maximizes the overall level of happiness. Bentham's utilitarianism is sometimes summed up with the slogan the greatest good for the greatest number. With this basic principle of utility on hand, let's begin to test it and to examine it by turning to another case another story but this time not a hypothetical story, a real-life story the case of the Queen versus Dudley and Stephens. This was a nineteenth-century British law case that's famous and much debated in law schools. Here's what happened in the case I'll summarize the story and then I want to hear how you would rule imagining that you are the jury. A newspaper account of the time described the background: A sadder story of disaster at sea was never told than that of the survivors of the yacht Mignonette. The ship foundered in the south Atlantic thirteen hundred miles from the cape there were four in the crew, Dudley was the captain Stephens was the first mate Brooks was a sailor, all men of excellent character, or so the newspaper account tells us. The fourth crew member was the cabin boy, Richard Parker seventeen years old. He was an orphan he had no family and he was on his first long voyage at sea. He went, the news account tells us, rather against the advice of his friends. He went in the hopefulness of youthful ambition thinking the journey would make a man of him. Sadly it was not to be, the facts of the case were not in dispute, a wave hit the ship and the Mignonette went down. The four crew members escaped to a lifeboat the only food they had were two cans of preserved turnips no fresh water for the first three days they ate nothing on the fourth day that opened one of the cans of turnips and ate it. The next day they caught a turtle together with the other can of turnips the turtle enabled them to subsist for the next few days and then for eight days they had nothing no food no water. Imagine yourself in a situation like that what would you do? Here's what they did by now the cabin boy Parker is lying at the bottom of the lifeboat in a corner because he had drunk sea water against the advice of the others and he had become ill and he appeared to be dying so on the nineteenth day Dudley, the captain, suggested that they should all have a lottery. That they should all draw lots to see who would die to save the rest. Brooks refused he didn't like the lottery idea we don't know whether this was because he didn't want to take that chance or because he believed in categorical moral principles but in any case no lots were drawn. The next day there was still no ship in sight so a Dudley told Brooks to avert his gaze and he motioned to Stephens that the boy Parker had better be killed. Dudley offered a prayer he told a the boy his time had come and he killed him with a pen knife stabbing him in the jugular vein. Brooks emerged from his conscientious objection to share in the gruesome bounty. For four days the three of them fed on the body and blood of the cabin boy. True story. And then they were rescued. Dudley describes their rescue in his diary with staggering euphemism, quote: "on the twenty fourth day as we were having our breakfast a ship appeared at last." The three survivors were picked up by a German ship. They were taken back to Falmouth in England where they were arrested and tried Brooks turned state's witness Dudley and Stephens went to trial. They didn't dispute the facts they claimed they had acted out of necessity that was their defense they argued in effect better that one should die so that three could survive the prosecutor wasn't swayed by that argument he said murder is murder and so the case went to trial. Now imagine you are the jury and just to simplify the discussion put aside the question of law, and let's assume that you as the jury are charged with deciding whether what they did was morally permissible or not. How many would vote not guilty, that what they did was morally permissible? And how many would vote guilty what they did was morally wrong? A pretty sizable majority. Now let's see what people's reasons are, and let me begin with those who are in the minority. Let's hear first from the defense of Dudley and Stephens. Why would you morally exonerate them? What are your reasons? I think it's I think it is morally reprehensible but I think that there's a distinction between what's morally reprehensible what makes someone legally accountable in other words the night as the judge said what's always moral isn't necessarily against the law and while I don't think that necessity justifies theft or murder any illegal act, at some point your degree of necessity does in fact exonerate you form any guilt. ok. other defenders, other voices for the defense? Moral justifications for what they did? yes, thank you I just feel like in a situation that desperate you have to do what you have to do to survive. You have to do what you have to do ya, you gotta do what you gotta do, pretty much. If you've been going nineteen days without any food you know someone just has to take the sacrifice has to make sacrifices and people can survive and furthermore from that let's say they survived and then they become productive members of society who go home and then start like a million charity organizations and this and that and this and that, I mean they benefit everybody in the end so I mean I don't know what they did afterwards, I mean they might have gone on and killed more people but whatever. what? what if they were going home and turned out to be assassins? What if they were going home and turned out to be assassins? You would want to know who they assassinated. That's true too, that's fair I would wanna know who they assassinated. alright that's good, what's your name? Marcus. We've heard a defense a couple voices for the defense now we need to hear from the prosecution most people think what they did was wrong, why? One of the first things that I was thinking was, oh well if they haven't been eating for a really long time, maybe then they're mentally affected that could be used for the defense, a possible argument that oh, that they weren't in a proper state of mind, they were making decisions that they otherwise wouldn't be making, and if that's an appealing argument that you have to be in an altered mindset to do something like that it suggests that people who find that argument convincing do you think that they're acting immorally. But I want to know what you think you're defending you k 0:37:41.249,0:37:45.549 you voted to convict right? yeah I don't think that they acted in morally appropriate way. And why not? What do you say, Here's Marcus he just defended them, he said, you heard what he said, yes I did yes that you've got to do what you've got to do in a case like that. What do you say to Marcus? They didn't, that there is no situation that would allow human beings to take the idea of fate or the other people's lives into their own hands that we don't have that kind of power. Good, okay thanks you, and what's your name? Britt? okay. who else? What do you say? Stand up I'm wondering if Dudley and Stephens had asked for Richard Parker's consent in, you know, dying, if that would would that exonerate them from an act of murder, and if so is that still morally justifiable? That's interesting, alright consent, now hang on, what's your name? Kathleen. Kathleen says suppose so what would that scenario look like? so in the story Dudley is there, pen knife in hand, but instead of the prayer or before the prayer, he says, Parker, would you mind we're desperately hungry, as Marcus empathizes with we're desperately hungry you're not going to last long anyhow, you can be a martyr, would you be a martyr how about it Parker? Then, then then what do you think, would be morally justified then? Suppose Parker in his semi-stupor says okay I don't think it'll be morally justifiable but I'm wondering. Even then, even then it wouldn't be? No You don't think that even with consent it would be morally justified. Are there people who think who want to take up Kathleen's consent idea and who think that that would make it morally justified? Raise your hand if it would if you think it would. That's very interesting Why would consent make a moral difference? Why would it? Well I just think that if he was making his own original idea and it was his idea to start with then that would be the only situation in which I would see it being appropriate in anyway 0:40:25.940,0:40:28.359 because that way you couldn't make the argument that he was pressured you know it’s three to one or whatever the ratio was, and I think that if he was making a decision to give his life then he took on the agency to sacrifice himself which some people might see as admirable and other people might disagree with that decision. So if he came up with the idea that's the only kind of consent we could have confidence in morally, then it would be okay otherwise it would be kind of coerced consent under the circumstances you think. Is there anyone who thinks that the even the consent of Parker would not justify their killing him? Who thinks that? Yes, tell us why, stand up I think that Parker would be killed with the hope that the other crew members would be rescued so there's no definite reason that he should be killed because you don't know when they're going to get rescued so if you kill him you're killing him in vain do you keep killing a crew member until you're rescued and then you're left with no one? because someone's going to die eventually? Well the moral logic of the situation seems to be that. That they would keep on picking off the weakest maybe, one by one, until they were rescued and in this case luckily when three at least were still alive. Now if if Parker did give his consent would it be all right do you think or not? No, it still wouldn't be right. Tell us why wouldn't be all right. First of all, cannibalism, I believe is morally incorrect so you shouldn’t be eating a human anyway. So cannibalism is morally objectionable outside so then even in the scenario of waiting until someone died still it would be objectionable. Yes, to me personally I feel like of it all depends on one's personal morals, like we can't just, like this is just my opinion of course other people are going to disagree. Well let's see, let's hear what their disagreements are and then we'll see if they have reasons that can persuade you or not. Let's try that Let's now is there someone who can explain, those of you who are tempted by consent can you explain why consent makes such a moral difference, what about the lottery idea does that count as consent. Remember at the beginning Dudley proposed a lottery suppose that they had agreed to a lottery then how many would then say it was all right. Say there was a lottery, cabin boy lost, and the rest of the story unfolded. How many people would say it's morally permissible? So the numbers are rising if we add a lottery, let's hear from one of you for whom the lottery would make a moral difference why would it? I think the essential element, in my mind that makes it a crime is the idea that they decided at some point that their lives were more important than his, and that I mean that's kind of the basis for really any crime right? It's like my needs, my desire is a more important than yours and mine take precedent and if they had done a lottery were everyone consented that someone should die and it's sort of like they're all sacrificing themselves, to save the rest, Then it would be all right? A little grotesque but, But morally permissible? Yes. what's your name? Matt. so, Matt for you what bothers you is not the cannibalism, but the lack of due process. I guess you could say that And can someone who agrees with Matt say a little bit more about why a lottery would make it, in your view, morally permissible. The way I understood it originally was that that was the whole issue is that the cabin boy was never consulted about whether or not it something was going to happen to him even though with the original lottery whether or not he would be a part of that it was just decided that he was the one that was going to die. Yes that's what happened in the actual case but if there were a lottery and they all agreed to the procedure you think that would be okay? Right, because everyone knows that there's gonna be a death whereas you know the cabin boy didn't know that this discussion was even happening there was no you know forewarning for him to know that hey, I may be the one that's dying. Okay, now suppose the everyone agrees to the lottery they have the lottery the cabin boy loses any changes his mind. You've already decided, it's like a verbal contract, you can't go back on that. You've decided the decision was made you know if you know you're dying for the reason for at others to live, you would, you know if the someone else had died you know that you would consume them, so But then he could say I know, but I lost. I just think that that's the whole moral issue is that there was no consulting of the cabin boy and that that's what makes it the most horrible is that he had no idea what was even going on, that if he had known what was going on it would be a bit more understandable. Alright, good, now I want to hear so there's some who think it's morally permissible but only about twenty percent, led by Marcus, then there are some who say the real problem here is the lack of consent whether the lack of consent to a lottery to a fair procedure or Kathleen's idea, lack of consent at the moment of death and if we add consent then more people are willing to consider the sacrifice morally justified. I want to hear now finally from those of you who think even with consent even with a lottery even with a final murmur of consent from Parker at the very last moment it would still be wrong and why would it be wrong that's what I want to hear. well the whole time I've been leaning towards the categorical moral reasoning and I think that there's a possibility I'd be okay with the idea of the lottery and then loser taking into their own hands to kill themselves so there wouldn't be an act of murder but I still think that even that way it's coerced and also I don't think that there's any remorse like in Dudley's diary we're getting our breakfast it seems as though he's just sort of like, oh, you know that whole idea of not valuing someone else's life so that makes me feel like I have to take the categorical stance. You want to throw the book at him. when he lacks remorse or a sense of having done anything wrong. Right. Alright, good so are there any other defenders who who say it's just categorically wrong, with or without consent, yes stand up. Why? I think undoubtedly the way our society is shaped, murder is murder murder is murder and every way our society looks down at it in the same light and I don't think it's any different in any case. Good now let me ask you a question, there were three lives at stake versus one, the one, that the cabin boy, he had no family he had no dependents, these other three had families back home in England they had dependents they had wives and children think back to Bentham, Bentham says we have to consider the welfare, the utility, the happiness of everybody. We have to add it all up so it's not just numbers three against one it's also all of those people at home in fact the London newspaper at the time and popular opinion sympathized with them Dudley in Stephens and the paper said if they weren't motivated by affection and concern for their loved ones at home and dependents, surely they wouldn't have done this. Yeah, and how is that any different from people on the corner trying to having the same desire to feed their family, I don't think it's any different. I think in any case if I'm murdering you to advance my status, that's murder and I think that we should look at all of that in the same light. Instead of criminalizing certain activities and making certain things seem more violent and savage when in that same case it's all the same act and mentality that goes into the murder, a necessity to feed their families. Suppose there weren't three, supposed there were thirty, three hundred, one life to save three hundred or in more time, three thousand or suppose the stakes were even bigger. Suppose the stakes were even bigger I think it's still the same deal. Do you think Bentham was wrong to say the right thing to do is to add up the collected happiness, you think he's wrong about that? I don't think he is wrong, but I think murder is murder in any case. Well then Bentham has to be wrong if you're right he's wrong. okay then he's wrong. Alright thank you, well done. Alright, let's step back from this discussion and notice how many objections have we heard to what they did. we heard some defenses of what they did the defense has had to do with necessity the dire circumstance and, implicitly at least, the idea that numbers matter and not only numbers matter but the wider effects matter their families back home, their dependents Parker was an orphan, no one would miss him. so if you add up if you tried to calculate the balance of happiness and suffering you might have a case for saying what they did was the right thing then we heard at least three different types of objections, we heard an objection that's said what they did was categorically wrong, right here at the end categorically wrong. Murder is murder it's always wrong even if it increases the overall happiness of society the categorical objection. But we still need to investigate why murder is categorically wrong. Is it because even cabin boys have certain fundamental rights? And if that's the reason where do those rights come from if not from some idea of the larger welfare or utility or happiness? Question number one. Others said a lottery would make a difference a fair procedure, Matt said. And some people were swayed by that. That's not a categorical objection exactly it's saying everybody has to be counted as an equal even though, at the end of the day one can be sacrificed for the general welfare. That leaves us with another question to investigate, Why does agreement to certain procedure, even a fair procedure, justify whatever result flows from the operation of that procedure? Question number two. and question number three the basic idea of consent. Kathleen got us on to this. If the cabin boy had agreed himself and not under duress as was added then it would be all right to take his life to save the rest. Even more people signed on to that idea but that raises a third philosophical question what is the moral work that consent does? Why does an act of consent make such a moral difference that an act that would be wrong, taking a life, without consent is morally permissible with consent? To investigate those three questions we're going to have to read some philosophers and starting next time we're going to read Bentham, and John Stuart Mill, utilitarian philosophers. Don't miss the chance to interact online with other viewers of Justice join the conversation, take a pop quiz, watch lectures you've missed, and a lot more. Visit It's the right thing to do. Funding for the program is provided by Additional funding provided by


Division I

Football Bowl Subdivision

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters Map
American Athletic Conference The American 1979
22 Providence,
Rhode Island
American Athletic Conference map.svg
Atlantic Coast Conference ACC 1953 15
27 Greensboro,
North Carolina
ACC overview map 2012-13a.png
Big Ten Conference Big Ten 1896 14 28 Rosemont,
Big 10 Map.svg
Big 12 Conference Big 12 1996 10 23 Irving,
Big 12 Conference Map.svg
Conference USA C-USA 1995 14 19 Irving,
Division I 
 FBS Independents
Ind. 6 1 None
NCAA Division I FBS independent schools map.svg
Mid-American Conference MAC 1946 12 23 Cleveland,
Mac States.svg
Mountain West Conference MW
1999 11
18 Colorado Springs,
Mountain West for 2012-13.png
Pac-12 Conference Pac-12 1959
12 24 San Francisco,
Pac-12 Conference states.svg
Southeastern Conference SEC 1932 14 21 Birmingham,
Sun Belt Conference Sun Belt 1976 12
18 New Orleans,
Sun Belt states map updated 2016.svg
  1. ^ Known as Big East Conference prior to 2013.
  2. ^ 12 full members with Wichita State as a non-football member; 12 football members with Navy as a football-only affiliate
  3. ^ 15 members (14 football)
  4. ^ 11 members (12 football) with Hawaii as a football-only affiliate
  5. ^ Pacific Coast Conference chartered in 1915; current charter formed 1959 by five former PCC members, with three others joining by 1964
  6. ^ 12 full members with Little Rock and Texas–Arlington as non-football members

Football Championship Subdivision

Conference Nickname Founded Full Members Sports Headquarters Map
Big Sky Conference Big Sky
1963 11
16 Ogden, Utah
Big Sky Map.svg
Big South Conference Big South 1983 11
19 Charlotte, North Carolina
Colonial Athletic Association CAA 1983 10
21 Richmond, Virginia
Colonial Athletic Association Map.svg
Division I FCS Independents 3
Ivy League Ivy League 1954
8 33 Princeton, New Jersey
Ivy League map.png
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference MEAC 1970 12
15 Norfolk, Virginia
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC 1985
1 St. Louis, Missouri
Missouri Valley Football Conference map.png
Northeast Conference NEC 1981 10
Somerset, New Jersey
MapNEC (Football).PNG
Ohio Valley Conference OVC 1948 12
17 Brentwood, Tennessee
Ohio Valley Conference map.png
Patriot League Patriot 1986 10
24 Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Patriot League Map.svg
Pioneer Football League PFL 1991 10
1 St. Louis, Missouri
Pioneer Football League map.png
Southern Conference SoCon 1921 10
21 Spartanburg, South Carolina
Southland Conference Southland 1963 13
17 Frisco, Texas
Southland Conference Map.svg
Southwestern Athletic Conference SWAC 1920 10 18 Birmingham, Alabama
  1. ^ 11 full members and 13 football members
  2. ^ 11 full members and 6 football members
    • 11 full members, 8 football members in 2019 with addition of Hampton football and North Alabama as a football-only member
    • 11 full members, 7 football members in 2020 with Presbyterian football leaving for independent status and eventually the Pioneer League
  3. ^ 10 full members and 12 football members
  4. ^ 1 independent in 2019 with Hampton and North Alabama joining Big South football
    • 1 independent in 2020 with North Dakota joining the MVFC and Presbyterian transitioning to non-scholarship football
    • No independents in 2021 with Presbyterian football joining the Pioneer League
  5. ^ While the Ivy League considers its athletic conference to have been established in 1954, the history of the athletic league can be traced back decades earlier:
    • In 1901, the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League (EIBL) was formed by five schools that would later become part of the current Ivy League; the EIBL membership eventually became identical to that of the future all-sports league. The EIBL was directly absorbed into the all-sports Ivy League, which considers the EIBL to be part of its history.
    • In 1945, the Ivy Group Agreement, which governed competition and policies among the Ivy schools in football, was signed by all eight schools that eventually formed the all-sports league.
    • The official formation of the athletic Ivy League came in 1954, when the Ivy Group Agreement was extended to cover all sports.
    For more details, see the section on the history of the athletic Ivy League.
  6. ^ 12 full members, 10 football members
    • 11 full members, 9 football members in 2019 with loss of Savannah State
  7. ^ While the MVFC began football competition in 1985, the conference charter dates to 1982. See History of the Missouri Valley Football Conference for more details.
  8. ^ 11 members in 2020 with addition of North Dakota
  9. ^ 10 full members, 7 football members
    • 11 full members, 8 football members in 2019 with addition of Merrimack
  10. ^ 24 sports in 2019 with addition of field hockey
  11. ^ 12 full members, 9 football members (one full member, Morehead State, plays football outside the OVC in the Pioneer Football League)
  12. ^ 10 full members and 7 football members
  13. ^ 11 members in 2021 with addition of Presbyterian
  14. ^ 10 full members, 9 football members
  15. ^ 13 full members, 11 football members

Non-football, multi-sport conferences

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters Map
America East Conference America East
1979 9 19 Boston, Massachusetts
Atlantic Sun Conference ASUN 1978 9 19 Macon, Georgia
ASUN Map.svg
Atlantic 10 Conference A-10 1975 14 21 Newport News, Virginia
Atlantic 10 Conference map.svg
Big East Conference Big East 2013
10 22 New York City, New York
New Big East-USA-states.png
Big West Conference Big West
1969 9[b] 18 Irvine, California
Big West-USA-states.png
Coastal Collegiate Sports Association CCSA 2008 24 [c] 3 [d] Macon, Georgia
Coastal Collegiate Sports Association map.png
Horizon League Horizon 1979 10 19 Indianapolis, Indiana
Horizon League map 2015.png
Division I Independents 0
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference MAAC 1980 11 24 [e] Edison, New Jersey
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference map.svg
Missouri Valley Conference MVC
The Valley
1907 10 17 St. Louis, Missouri
Missouri Valley Conference map.svg
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation MPSF 1992 38 10 Woodland, California
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation map.svg
Summit League The Summit 1982 9 19 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The Summit League map.svg
West Coast Conference WCC 1952 10 14 San Bruno, California
WCC West Coast Conference Map.PNG
Western Athletic Conference WAC 1962 9 [f] 19[1] Englewood, Colorado
Map - Western Athletic Conference.svg
  1. ^ Although the charter of the current Big East dates only to the 2013 split of the original Big East, both the current Big East and the American Athletic Conference claim 1979 as their founding dates. The current Big East maintains the pre-split history of the original conference in all sports that it sponsors. In football and rowing, the two sports that are sponsored by The American but not the current Big East, neither conference recognizes the history of the original Big East.
  2. ^ 11 members in 2020 with addition of CSU Bakersfield and UC San Diego
  3. ^ Total conference membership; no more than 12 schools compete in any one of the CCSA's three sports.
  4. ^ Sponsors only men's and women's swimming & diving, plus beach volleyball.
  5. ^ 23 sports in 2019 with dropping of field hockey.
  6. ^ 8 members in 2020 with loss of CSU Bakersfield

Ice hockey conferences

Conference Nickname Founded Members (Men/Women) Headquarters Map
Atlantic Hockey Atlantic Hockey 1997 11 (11/none) Haverhill, Massachusetts
Map - College Hockey - Atlantic Hockey states.svg
College Hockey America CHA 1999 [a] 6 (none/6) Haverhill, Massachusetts
Map - College Hockey - College Hockey America states.svg
ECAC Hockey ECAC 1962 12 (12/12) Albany, New York
Map - College Hockey - ECAC Hockey states.svg
Hockey East Hockey East
1984 12 (11/10) Wakefield, Massachusetts
Map - College Hockey - Hockey East states.svg
Independents 6 (1/5)
Map - College Hockey - Independents states.svg
National Collegiate Hockey Conference NCHC 2011 [b] 8 (8/none) Colorado Springs, Colorado
NCHC states.svg
Western Collegiate Hockey Association WCHA 1951 15 (10/7) Edina, Minnesota
Map - College Hockey - WCHA states.svg
  1. ^ College Hockey America was formed in 1999 as a men's-only conference; women's play began in 2002. The men's side of CHA folded after the 2009–10 season.
  2. ^ Although founded in 2011, the NCHC did not begin play until 2013.

Other single-sport conferences

This list includes conferences in sports that the NCAA does not fully split into divisions, such as men's volleyball and rifle. Note also that sports in which the NCAA sponsors separate championships for men and women are officially treated by the NCAA as two separate sports.

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters Map
Central Collegiate Ski Association CCSA 2009 9 1 (Skiing) ?
Collegiate Water Polo Association CWPA 1970s 28 [a] 1 (water polo) Bridgeport, Pennsylvania
East Atlantic Gymnastics League EAGL 1995 7 1 (gymnastics) ?
Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges EARC ? 18 1 (rowing) Danbury, Connecticut
Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges map.png
Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges EAWRC ? 18 1 (rowing) Danbury, Connecticut
Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges map.png
Eastern Intercollegiate Gymnastics League EIGL ? 5 1 (gymnastics) Danbury, Connecticut
Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association EISA ? 15 1 (Skiing) ?
Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association EIVA 1977 8 1 (men's volleyball) Bronxville, New York
Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association EIWA 1905 16 1 (wrestling) ?
Eastern Women's Fencing Conference EWFC 2000 7 1 (fencing) ?
EWFC map.svg
Eastern Wrestling League EWL 1976 7 1 (wrestling) ?
Golden Coast Conference GCC 2013 [b] 6 (men)
8 (women)
1 (water polo) ?
Great America Rifle Conference GARC 1998 9 1 (rifle) ?
Intercollegiate Fencing Conference of Southern California IFCSC 1996? 2 [c] 1 (fencing) ?
IFCSC map.svg
Metropolitan Swimming Conference METS ? 18 (men)
19 (women)
1 (swimming) ?
Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Fencing Association MACFA 1952 8 [d] 1 (fencing) Hackettstown, New Jersey
MACFA map.svg
Mid-Atlantic Rifle Conference MAC 1978 7 [e] 1 (rifle) ?
Midwest Fencing Conference MFC 1968 6 [f] 1 (fencing) University of Notre Dame (?)
MFC map.svg
Midwest Independent Conference MIC ? 6 1 (women's gymnastics) UIC (?)
Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association MIVA 1961 8 1 (men's volleyball) Columbus, Ohio
Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference MRGC 2013 4 1 (women's gymnastics)
National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association NIWFA 1929 10 [g] 1 (fencing) ?
NIWFA map.svg
New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference NEIFC ? 8 [h] 1 (fencing) ?
NEIFC map.svg
Northeast Fencing Conference NFC 1992 8 [i] 1 (fencing) ?
NFC map.svg
Patriot Rifle Conference PRC 2013 6 1 (rifle) Colorado Springs, Colorado
Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association RMISA 1950 8 [j][k] 1 (Skiing) ?
Southland Bowling League SBL 2015[l] 8 1 (bowling) Frisco, Texas
Western Water Polo Association WWPA 1981 8 (men)
9 (women)[m]
1 (water polo) ?
  1. ^ 9 schools have both men's & women's varsity teams, 10 have men's varsity teams only, 9 have women's varsity teams only; additionally, there are 136 men's and 86 women's club teams.
  2. ^ Founded in 2013 as a women's-only conference; men's play added in 2016.
  3. ^ There are 2 varsity members; the conference also has 7 college club members.
  4. ^ There are 8 varsity members; the conference also has 7 college club members.
  5. ^ There are 7 varsity members; the conference also has 6 college club members.
  6. ^ There are 6 varsity members; the conference also has 13 college club members.
  7. ^ There are 10 varsity members; the conference also has 10 college club members.
  8. ^ There are 8 varsity members; the conference also has 13 college club members.
  9. ^ There are 8 varsity members; the conference also has 5 college club members.
  10. ^ There are 8 varsity members; the conference also has 4 college club members.
  11. ^ 7 varsity members in 2019 with loss of New Mexico.
  12. ^ The SBL was established during the 2014–15 school year with competition starting immediately. While the Southland Conference provides administrative support, the SBL operates separately.[2]
  13. ^ 8 women's members in 2019 with loss of UC San Diego; men's membership will not change.

Division II

Current conferences

Conference Nickname Founded Members D-II
Headquarters Map
California Collegiate Athletic Association CCAA 1938 13 [a] 13 Walnut Creek, California
Conference Carolinas CC 1930 11 [b] 21 [c] Thomasville, North Carolina
Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference CACC 1961 14 16 New Haven, Connecticut
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association CIAA 1912 13 [d] 15 Hampton, Virginia
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, coverage map2.png
East Coast Conference ECC 1989 10 17 Central Islip, New York
Great American Conference GAC 2011 12 16 Russellville, Arkansas
Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference GLIAC 1972 12 21 Bay City, Michigan
Great Lakes Valley Conference GLVC 1978 14 [e] 22 Indianapolis, Indiana
Great Midwest Athletic Conference G-MAC 2011 14 [f] 23 [g] Greenwood, Indiana
Great midwest athletic conference map2.png
Great Northwest Athletic Conference GNAC 2001 11 16 Portland, Oregon
Gulf South Conference GSC 1970 13 17 Birmingham, Alabama
Gulf South Conference map.png
Heartland Conference Heartland 1999 9[h] 13 Waco, Texas
Division II Independents 3
Lone Star Conference LSC 1931 11[i] 17 Richardson, Texas
Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association MIAA 1912 14[j] 19 Kansas City, Missouri
Mountain East Conference MEC 2012 12 [k] 19 [l] Bridgeport, West Virginia
Northeast-10 Conference NE-10 1980 15[m] 23 Mansfield, Massachusetts
Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference NSIC 1932 16 18 St. Paul, Minnesota
Pacific West Conference PacWest 1992 12 15 Newport Beach, California
Peach Belt Conference PBC 1990 12 15 Augusta, Georgia
Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference PSAC 1951 17 [n] 23 Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference RMAC 1909 16 23 Colorado Springs, Colorado
South Atlantic Conference SAC 1975 11 [o] 20 Rock Hill, South Carolina
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference SIAC 1913 13 [p] 13 Tucker, Georgia
Sunshine State Conference SSC 1975 11 18 Melbourne, Florida
  1. ^ 12 members in 2020 with loss of UC San Diego.
  2. ^ 12 members in 2019 with addition of Chowan.
  3. ^ Emerging sport Swimming & Diving (M) included.
  4. ^ 12 members in 2019 with loss of Chowan.
  5. ^ 16 members in 2019 with addition of Benedictine and Southwest Baptist.
  6. ^ 13 members in 2019 with loss of Davis & Elkins.
  7. ^ Emerging sport Wrestling included.
  8. ^ Disbanding in 2019 following the announced departure of eight members to the Lone Star Conference, with the ninth (Newman) set to become a de facto MIAA member at that time.
  9. ^ 20 members in 2019 with addition of Arkansas–Fort Smith, Dallas Baptist, Lubbock Christian, Oklahoma Christian, Rogers State, St. Edwards, St. Mary's (TX), Texas A&M International, and UT Tyler.
  10. ^ 13 full members in 2019 with loss of Southwest Baptist. A 14th school, Newman, will technically be an associate member, but for all practical purposes will be a full non-football member, housing all of its sports in the MIAA.
  11. ^ 12 members in 2019 with loss of Shepherd and UVA–Wise, plus addition of Davis & Elkins and Frostburg State.
  12. ^ 22 sports in 2019 with addition of men's and women's indoor track & field, plus wrestling.
  13. ^ 14 members in 2019 with loss of Merrimack.
  14. ^ 18 members in 2019 with addition of Shepherd.
  15. ^ 12 members in 2019 with addition of UVA–Wise.
  16. ^ 14 members in 2019 with addition of Savannah State.

Single-sport conferences

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sport Headquarters Map
Appalachian Swimming Conference ASC ? 6 (men)
4 (women)
swimming ?
Bluegrass Mountain Conference BMC 2000 9 (men)
7 (women)
swimming Spartanburg, South Carolina
BMC swim states.png
ECAC Division II Field Hockey League ECAC 2014 6 field hockey Danbury, Connecticut
ECAC Division II Wrestling League ECAC 2015 7 wrestling Danbury, Connecticut
New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference NSISC 1995 6 (men)
6 (women)
swimming ?
NSISC swim states.png
Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference PCSC 2003 4 (men)
7 (women)
swimming ?

Other sports

These conferences sponsor sports which do not have D-II championships.

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sport Headquarters Map
Conference Carolinas CC 1930 9 men's volleyball Thomasville, North Carolina
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association CIAA 1912 10 bowling Hampton, Virginia
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, coverage map.png
East Coast Conference ECC 1989 10 bowling Central Islip, New York
Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association MIAA 1912 7 bowling Kansas City, Missouri
Northeast-10 Conference NE-10 1980 6 men's ice hockey South Easton, Massachusetts

Division III

Current conferences

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters Map
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference AMCC 1997 10[a] 16 North Boston, New York
American Collegiate Athletic Association ACAA 2017 9[b] 8
American Southwest Conference ASC 1996 13[c] 16 Richardson, Texas
Atlantic East Conference AEC 2018 7 20 Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Capital Athletic Conference CAC 1989 8[d] 21 Hollywood, Maryland
Centennial Conference Centennial 1981 11 24 Lancaster, Pennsylvania
City University of New York Athletic Conference CUNYAC 1987 9 16 Flushing, Queens, New York
College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin CCIW 1946 9 23 Naperville, Illinois
Colonial States Athletic Conference CSAC 1992 9[e] 17 Aston, Pennsylvania
Commonwealth Coast Conference CCC 1984 9 17 Springfield, Massachusetts
Map of the USA with The Commonwealth Coast Conference region highlighted.png
Commonwealth Coast Football[f] CCC Football 1965[g] 7[h] 1 Springfield, Massachusetts
Map of the USA with The Commonwealth Coast Conference region highlighted.png
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference ECFC 2009 7[i] 1 Wilmington, Vermont
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Map.svg
Empire 8 E8 1964 9 22 Rochester, New York
Great Northeast Athletic Conference GNAC 1995 13 17 Boston, Massachusetts
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference HCAC 1987 10 16 Greenwood, Indiana
Division III Independents 1 (football)[j]
6 (basketball)
Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference IIAC 1922 9 22 Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Landmark Conference Landmark 2006 8 18 Madison, New Jersey
Liberty League Liberty 1995 11 26 Canton, New York
Little East Conference LEC 1986 9 19 North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference MASCAC 1971 8 16 Westfield, Massachusetts
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association MIAA 1888 9 22 Freeland, Michigan
Middle Atlantic Conferences MAC 1912 17[k][l] 27 Annville, Pennsylvania
Midwest Conference Midwest 1921 10 20 Ripon, Wisconsin
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference MIAC 1920 13 22 St. Paul, Minnesota
New England Collegiate Conference NECC 2008 10 16 Attleboro, Massachusetts
New England Small College Athletic Conference NESCAC 1971 11 26 Hadley, Massachusetts
New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference NEWMAC 1998 11 20 Wellesley, Massachusetts
New Jersey Athletic Conference NJAC 1985 10 18 Pitman, New Jersey
North Atlantic Conference NAC 1996 8 15 Waterville, Maine
North Coast Athletic Conference NCAC 1983 10 23 Westlake, Ohio
North Eastern Athletic Conference NEAC 2004 12[m] 18 Gansevoort, New York
Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference NACC 2006 13[n] 19 Waukesha, Wisconsin
Northwest Conference NWC 1926 9 20 Seattle, Washington
Ohio Athletic Conference OAC 1902 10 23 Austintown, Ohio
Old Dominion Athletic Conference ODAC 1976 15 24 Forest, Virginia
Presidents' Athletic Conference PAC 1955 9 19 Wexford, Pennsylvania
Presidents Athletic Conference map.svg
Skyline Conference Skyline 1989 11[o] 17 Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Southern Athletic Association SAA 2012 8 21 Atlanta, Georgia
Southern Athletic Association Map.svg
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference SCIAC 1915 9 21 Los Angeles, California
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference SCAC 1962 9 18 Lawrenceville, Georgia
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Map.svg
State University of New York Athletic Conference SUNYAC 1958 11 20 Fredonia, New York
St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference SLIAC 1989 10 14 St. Louis, Missouri
University Athletic Association UAA 1986 8 22 Rochester, New York
Upper Midwest Athletic Conference UMAC 1972 9 16 St. Paul, Minnesota
Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Map.svg
USA South Athletic Conference USA South 1965 18 14 Fayetteville, North Carolina
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference WIAC 1913 8 22 Madison, Wisconsin
  1. ^ 11 members in 2019 with addition of Alfred State.
  2. ^ 7 members in 2019 with loss of Alfred State and Thomas More.
  3. ^ 12 members in 2019 with loss of UT Tyler.
  4. ^ 6 members in 2019 with loss of Frostburg State and Penn State Harrisburg.
  5. ^ 10 members in 2019 with addition of Saint Elizabeth.
  6. ^ Commonwealth Coast Football is operated by the Commonwealth Coast Conference, but remains a separate entity.
  7. ^ Commonwealth Coast Football is a 2017 rebranding of the New England Football Conference, which was founded in 1965.
  8. ^ 8 members in 2019 with addition of Husson
  9. ^ 6 members in 2019 with loss of Husson
  10. ^ No football independents in 2019 with Thomas More leaving the NCAA to rejoin the NAIA.
  11. ^ The MAC is actually an umbrella organization of three conferences. Nine schools are members of the Commonwealth Conference and eight are members of the Freedom Conference. Each league conducts competition in the same set of 15 sports, not including football. The third league, called the Middle Atlantic Conference, combines schools from the Commonwealth and Freedom Conferences for the following 12 sports: men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's ice hockey, men's and women's track & field (both indoor and outdoor), men's and women's swimming & diving, and men's volleyball.
  12. ^ 16 total members and 7 MAC Freedom members in 2019 with loss of Manhattanville
  13. ^ 12 members in 2019 with addition of Penn State Harrisburg and loss of Saint Elizabeth.
  14. ^ 12 members in 2019 with loss of Benedictine.
  15. ^ 12 members in 2019 with addition of Manhattanville

Single-sport conferences

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sport Headquarters Map
Colonial Hockey Conference CHC 2015 7 Women's ice hockey
Continental Volleyball Conference CVC 2011 12 Men's volleyball Madison, New Jersey
ECAC West ECAC-W 6 (men)
10 (women)
Ice hockey Danbury, Connecticut
Map - College Hockey - D3 - ECAC West states.svg
Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League MCVL 2014 10 Men's volleyball Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Midwest Lacrosse Conference MLC 2009 8 Men's lacrosse Waukesha, Wisconsin
Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference MWLC 2010 10 Women's Lacrosse Waukesha, Wisconsin
New England Hockey Conference NEHC 2015 10 (men)
13 (women)
Ice hockey N/A
Map - College Hockey - D3 - ECAC East states.svg
Northern Collegiate Hockey Association NCHA 1981 10 (men)
7 (women)
Ice hockey Waukesha, Wisconsin
Map - College Hockey - D3 - NCHA states.svg
Ohio River Lacrosse Conference ORLC 2014 7 (men)
10 (women)
Lacrosse Greenwood, Indiana
United Volleyball Conference UVC 2010 9 Men's volleyball Rochester, New York

Other sports

These conferences sponsor sports which do not have D-III championships.

Conference Nickname Founded Members Sport Headquarters Map
Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference AMCC 1997 8 Bowling North Boston, New York
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference WIAC 1913 8 Women's gymnastics Madison, Wisconsin

Defunct NCAA conferences

Conference Division Founded Folded Fate
America Sky Conference Division I 2007 2014 Men's golf conference absorbed by the Big Sky Conference.[3]
American Lacrosse Conference Division I 2001 2014 Women's lacrosse conference that folded after the 2014 season due to fallout of the early-2010s conference realignment, specifically the 2013 announcement by the Big Ten that it would add men's and women's lacrosse for the 2014–15 school year (2015 season). Four of the seven final ALC members are full Big Ten members. Johns Hopkins went independent before joining Big Ten women's lacrosse in the 2017 season. The other two members became Big East affiliates.
American South Conference Division I 1987 1991 Merged with the Sun Belt Conference. The new conference used the Sun Belt name.[4]
Atlantic Central Football Conference Division III 1997 2010 Disbanded
Atlantic Soccer Conference Division I 2000 2012 Disbanded
Atlantic Women's Colleges Conference Division III 1995 2007 Disbanded
Big Central Soccer Conference Division I 1987 1991 Men's soccer-only conference disbanded after the all-sports conferences of all but two of its members began sponsoring the sport.
Big Eight Conference Division I 1907 1996 Initially formed in January 1907 as the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, before six schools split away to form the Big Six in 1928. Disbanded to join with four former Southwest Conference schools to create the Big 12 Conference.
Border Conference University Division 1931 1962 Members split between the newly formed WAC and Independent statuses.
Central Collegiate Hockey Association Division I 1971 2013 The decision of the Big Ten Conference to add men's ice hockey as a sponsored sport in the 2013–14 season, taking three of the most successful members of the then-11-member league, led to a major conference realignment that ultimately consumed the CCHA. Two members joined the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, one member joined Hockey East, and the remaining five members joined or rejoined the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Continental Divide Conference Division II ??? 1992 Women's-only conference that merged with the men's-only Great Northwest Conference (not to be confused with the current Great Northwest Athletic Conference) to form the Pacific West Conference.
Deep South Conference Division II 1994 2013 Men's lacrosse conference disbanded when the South Atlantic Conference and Sunshine State Conference, home to all nine of the final conference members, began sponsoring the sport.
Dixie Conference * 1930 1942 Disbanded after most of its members suspended athletics during World War II.
Dixie Conference * 1948 1954 Disbanded
East Coast Conference Division I 1958 1994 Absorbed by the Mid-Continent Conference, now known as The Summit League.
Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League * 1901 1955 Basketball-only conference absorbed by the Ivy League, which claims the EIBL as part of its own history.
ECAC Lacrosse League Division I 1999 2014 Men's lacrosse conference that disbanded after the 2014 season. The conference lost many members after the 2010 season when the original Big East launched a men's lacrosse league, and lost still more members with the Big Ten announcement. At the end of the final ECAC Lacrosse season, only one member had not announced a new lacrosse affiliation for the 2014–15 school year; that school would later join Southern Conference men's lacrosse.
ECAC Division II Lacrosse League Division II 2012 2016 Disbanded. Six members began play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, leaving three members to become independents.
Freedom Football Conference Division III 1992 2003 Disbanded
Great Lakes Football Conference Division II 2006 2012 Football-only conference, effectively absorbed by the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Great Midwest Conference Division I 1991 1995 Merged with Metro Conference to form Conference USA.
Great Northwest Conference Division II ??? 1992 The second part of the merger that created the current Pacific West Conference.
Great South Athletic Conference Division III 1999 2016 Disbanded
Great West Conference Division I 2004 2013 Disbanded after all but one of its members joined more established conferences during the early-2010s conference realignment. The men's golf history and Internet presence of the Great West were maintained by the America Sky Conference (above) before the latter conference's absorption by the Big Sky.
Great West Hockey Conference Division I 1985 1988 Ice hockey-only conference formed by four Western schools, but had one of its members drop hockey after its first season. After failing to attract additional members in 1988, the league folded when one of the remaining members shut down its entire athletic program.
Great Western Lacrosse League Division I 1993 2010 Members joined the ECAC Lacrosse League (see above).
Gulf Coast Conference College Division 1949 1957 Disbanded
Gulf Star Conference Division I 1984 1987 Effectively absorbed by the Southland Conference.
High Country Athletic Conference Division I 1983 1990 Women's-only conference absorbed by the Western Athletic Conference.
Indiana Collegiate Conference Division II 1950 1978 Disbanded
Indiana Intercollegiate Conference Division II 1922 1950 Disbanded
Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference University Division 1908 1970 Previously known as Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, disbanded.
Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the Northwest * 1892 1893 Disbanded, precursor to the Big Ten Conference.
Lake Michigan Conference Division III 1974 2007 Merged with the Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference to form the Northern Athletics Conference, now known as the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.
Metro Conference Division I 1975 1995 Merged with Great Midwest Conference to form Conference USA.
Metropolitan Collegiate Conference University Division 1965 1969 Disbanded
Metropolitan New York Conference University Division 1933 1963 Disbanded
Mid-Continent Athletic Association Division II, later Division I 1978 1981 Football-only conference absorbed by the Association of Mid-Continent Universities in 1982. Effectively one of the precursors to the current Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association Division III 1998 2013 Absorbed by the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.
Midwestern Conference University Division 1970 1972 The five member schools were unable to find the 6th member required for NCAA recognition.
Mountain States Conference (aka Skyline Conference) University Division 1938 1962 Disbanded, members split between the newly formed WAC and Independent statuses.
Mountain West Athletic Conference Division I 1982 1988 Women's-only conference (not to be confused with the modern Mountain West Conference) absorbed by the Big Sky Conference.
National Lacrosse Conference Division I 2008 2012 Disbanded after the Atlantic Sun Conference and Big South Conference began sponsoring women's lacrosse.
New England Conference * 1938 1947 Disbanded; the final four members joined two other schools to form the Yankee Conference under a new charter. Effectively the earliest ancestor of today's Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) football conference.
New England Women's Lacrosse Alliance Division III 1998 2012 Disbanded
New South Women's Athletic Conference Division I 1985 1991 Women's-only conference initially known as the New South Conference; absorbed by the Trans America Athletic Conference, now legally known as the Atlantic Sun Conference and branded as the ASUN Conference.
North Central Conference Division II 1922 2008 Disbanded
North East Collegiate Volleyball Association Division III 1995 2011 Men's volleyball conference disbanded in 2011 due to the 2012 establishment of the NCAA Men's Division III Volleyball Championship. Most of the all-sports conferences that were home to NECVA members began sponsoring men's volleyball at that time.
North Star Conference Division I 1983 1992 Women's-only conference effectively absorbed by the Mid-Continent Conference (now The Summit League).
Northern California Athletic Conference Division II 1925 1996 Football-only conference, dissolved when most members decided to drop football
Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference Division III 1969 2007 Merged with the Lake Michigan Conference to form the Northern Athletics Conference, now known as the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.
Northern Pacific Conference Division I 1982 1986 Women's-only conference. Disbanded when the Pac-10, home to five of the seven final conference members, began sponsoring women's sports.
Northern Pacific Field Hockey Conference Division I 1982 2015 Field hockey-only conference that folded after the 2014 season. After a period in which the conference expanded to span both coasts, most of the eastern teams left over time. Four of the six final members, all from California (and also the league's founding members), became America East affiliates. The remaining two members became independents; one is now a field hockey member of the Big East and the other is now a MAC field hockey member.
Northern Sun Conference Division II 1979 1992 Women's-only conference that merged with the men's Northern Intercollegiate Conference, forming the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Pacific Coast Conference Division I 1915 1959 Forerunner to the Pac-12, disbanded due to scandal and infighting
Pacific Coast Softball Conference Division I 2002 2013 Softball-only; disbanded due to fallout from the early-2010s conference realignment. After the 2012 season, it lost five members when the Big Sky added the sport and a sixth to the WAC. After the 2013 season, the final seven members left when the West Coast Conference began sponsoring the sport (five were already WCC members, and the other two joined the WAC in softball).
Pilgrim Lacrosse League Division III 1986 2013 Absorbed by the NEWMAC
Southeast Team Handball Conference Unknown 1997 2006 Handball only, disbanded
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association * 1894 1941 Disbanded with the onset of American involvement in World War II.
Southwest Conference Division I 1914 1996 Disbanded, members split into the Big 12, WAC, and C-USA
United Soccer Conference Division I 2005 2009 Women's soccer-only, absorbed by Great West Conference
West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Division II 1924 2013 Disbanded after the conference's football schools announced a split from the non-football schools. Ultimately, nine of the final schools became charter members of the Mountain East Conference, three joined the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, two joined the PSAC, and one went independent.
Western Collegiate Athletic Association Division I 1981 1986 Women's-only conference; known in its final season of 1985–86 as the Pacific West Conference (not to be confused with the current NCAA Division II conference). Disbanded when the Pac-10, home to the final five conference members, began sponsoring women's sports.
Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division II 2010 2015 Lacrosse-only conference absorbed by the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference; all final teams are members of the RMAC, including one affiliate. The RMAC had absorbed the women's side of the WILA in 2013; five of the members were RMAC members including one affiliate, one additional women's member became an independent.
Western Wrestling Conference Division I 2006 2015 Wrestling-only conference effectively absorbed by the Big 12 Conference, with all of its final members becoming single-sport Big 12 associates.
Yankee Conference Division I 1947 1997 Football-only conference from 1975 until its absorption by the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1997. Also an effective ancestor of today's CAA football conference.
  • * - Operated before the NCAA split into divisions in 1955.

Conferences set to disband

This section is reserved for conferences currently in operation, but likely to disband in the near future due to major membership losses.

Conference Division Founded Folding Background
Heartland Conference Division II 1999 2019 In August 2017, eight of the Heartland Conference's nine members announced a mass exodus to the Lone Star Conference (LSC) after the 2018–19 school year.[5] The remaining member, Newman University, announced it would seek a new conference affiliation at that time,[6] and eventually announced that it would become a de facto member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in 2019.[7] According to the Newman student newspaper, the Heartland and LSC had been discussing a merger in spring 2017.[8]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "New Southland Bowling League Established" (Press release). Southland Conference. January 20, 2015. Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ Burton, Roy (June 4, 2014). "WSU joins friends/foes as Big Sky brings back men's golf". Standard-Examiner. Ogden, UT. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Lone Star Conference to Add Eight Schools in 2019" (Press release). Lone Star Conference. August 30, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Newman To Explore New Conference Affiliation" (Press release). Newman University Athletics. August 30, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Newman to Compete In MIAA As Associate Member in 2019-20" (Press release). Newman Jets. February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2018. 
  8. ^ Mannis, Taylor (March 9, 2017). "Heartland Conference Looking to Expand". The Vantage. Wichita, KS. Retrieved December 19, 2017. 
This page was last edited on 17 September 2018, at 00:11
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