A Moral Case Against Certain Uses of Plagiarism Detection Services

TitleA Moral Case Against Certain Uses of Plagiarism Detection Services
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsClanton, CJ
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Philosophy
Volume23
Issue1
Pagination17-26
Date PublishedSpring 2009
PublisherPhilosophy Documentation Center
ISSN Number0739-098X
KeywordsCHARACTER , education , ethics , Honor , plagiarism
AbstractThe statistics on plagiarism are staggering. No wonder, then, that many colleges and universities have started using plagiarism detection services (PDSs) such as Turnitin. But there are problems -- and more problems than most critics have recognized. Whereas critics typically focus on 'legal' issues related to intellectual property and privacy rights, I argue that unless we can reasonably suspect academic dishonesty, it's 'morally' problematic to require submission through a PDS. Even if we insist that the benefits of PDS use are worth the costs of saddling students with an undeserved burden of proof, 'blanket' PDS use -- that is, using PDSs across the board and without reasonable suspicion -- is problematic because it conflicts with one of the aims of educational institutions: to cultivate students' characters. Although blanket PDS use may in fact deter plagiarism, it doesn't create an environment conducive to the formation of honor, and it may even be a hindrance.
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