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Plagiarism and Morality - A Philosophical Argument

Written by Matthew Morone
August 23, 2010

“[Plagiarism is] no big moral deal; which doesn’t mean, I hasten to add, that plagiarism shouldn’t be punished — if you’re in our house, you’ve got to play by our rules — just that what you’re punishing is a breach of disciplinary decorum, not a breach of the moral universe.” – Stanley Fish

As educators, we often discuss plagiarism in regards to its legality; and rightly so: knowledge of copyright, intellectual properties, and theft may be what stands between our students and academic failure, expulsion, and potential criminal conviction. However, in this editorial from the New York Times, Stanley Fish, professor at Florida International University in Miami, posits that, while plagiarism is in fact “wrong” in the legal sense, it does not indicate any moral weakness.

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