Bouville - arxiv.org 2008

Why is cheating wrong?

Mathieu Bouville

It seems so obvious that cheating is wrong that providing a justification is not a main concern: most of the research is empirical and focuses on quantification and correlations. I look at a number of reasons why cheating may be wrong: it provides an unfair advantage over other students, it hinders learning, and it is dishonest. They are unexpectedly weak (often not proving that cheating is wrong) or have consequences that few would endorse, e.g. showing that cheaters should not be punished or that teachers too should be. I finally argue that if instead of asking 'is cheating wrong?' one asks 'what should the students do?' one can no longer hide behind words such as 'cheating' to avoid dealing with reality. One is forced to consider why would students cheat and provide a concrete solution. -- Keywords: academic dishonesty, academic integrity, academic misconduct, education, ethics, homework, honor code, plagiarism