Discussion Whether or Not Cheating is Bad

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This paper outlines the definitions of cheating, the types of cheating which occur in everyday life, and discusses whether or not cheating is bad. In this paper I take the stance that the act of cheating is always bad. I try to figure out why cheating is bad and understand if there are times where cheating can be justified.

The act of cheating is to be dishonest and unfair, in order to gain advantage over something or someone. This advantage is gained through deception, lies, the breaking of a promise or rule, and an element of secrecy. People who engage in cheating regularly, are usually private about how they have achieved their accomplishments due to the acknowledgement that they have engaged in wrongful behaviour. Cheating is apparent/present in many aspects of life and can take many forms. This includes cheating in sports, cheating in relationships, cheating in education, and cheating in business.

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If A intentionally fills out his company’s yearly returns incorrectly in order to lower his tax burden, and the government take these manipulated figures to be correct, A has cheated the government.

As there are many different types of cheating, we first must figure out certain conditions in which an act must include in order to be classified as cheating as opposed to deception or fraud. It seems that the necessary conditions required to constitute cheating:

  • The intention to deceive
  • The breaking of a promise or a rule
  • An element of secrecy

In this case, A has cheated if A breaks a promise to S with intentions of secrecy and deception. The difference with this example as opposed to deception alone is that cheating involves the breaking of a promise, whereas deception involves lying in order to convince others into believing something that is not true. In order to be classified as cheating, an event or act must contain all three of these elements.

One may object by questioning if secrecy is required for cheating to occur and may come up with the example of a student in a class, who has copied from another student in a test. If all the classmates are aware of the copying, has the copying student cheated? This example seems to lack the necessary element of secrecy, and therefore could be argued that this example does not constitute cheating. This however still contains secrecy, as while the classmates were aware of the happenings, the cheating student did not intend for this to occur. Also, all parties involved, teacher and supervisors included, were not fully aware of these happenings, as had they been, they would have undoubtedly stopped it, and so this copying still fulfils the necessary conditions for cheating.

Another objection may be one which seems to lack deception!

Now we must decide if cheating is bad. It seems that most of our examples up to this point would lead to the opinion that it undoubtedly is. I argue that the bad in cheating stems from the bad in deception, and the bad in the breaking of a promise or a rule. This is not an uncommon view, as cheating is often seen as simply another strain of deception.

Deception is bad because it prevents the person being deceived, from making the decisions they would have made, had they not been deceived or lied to, and known all the correct information. It impairs people’s judgements as their circumstances have been skewed by the deceiver.

The breaking of a promise is bad as it damages people’s trust. The breaking of a rule is bad as it goes against the social standards set, and agreed on, by a community or society. Breaking of a rule defies the normalities which are in place to promote equality and to protect those involved. Therefore, breaking of rules is bad as it has potential to lead to harm and inequality.

As cheating involves both the breaking of a rule or promise and deception, we conclude that cheating, too, is bad. I cannot say that any one form of cheating is worse than the other forms, as I believe each causes harm and results in another party being placed in an undesirable position, but some may argue that some forms are worse than others dues to the scale of the negative results produced, for example, a classroom cheating example has small overall results as compared to a large company with false returns.

Then there is the question of if cheating is always bad. Can we ever justify cheating? Let us look at the example of cheating which does not seem as bad.

If A’s partner is abusive and A has tried many times to end the relationship without success, so A secretly resorts to unfaithfulness, is A’s cheating bad? Is A’s cheating justified?

In this case, it seems that A had good reasons to cheat. This however does not mean that the cheating itself was not bad. A’s cheating, while still bad, is justified, as A is forced into cheating as a last resort to try overcome or at least minimise the effects of a greater wrong. This is a rare case where cheating can be viewed as morally permissible, as it involves a small wrongdoing in order to minimise the effects of a larger harm. In order for this to be permissible, one must weigh up the wrong from cheating and the other activity, and the other activity’s wrong must outweigh the wrong in cheating.

If we hold these opinions to be correct, then cheating can be seen as a form of harm. According to the counterfactual view of harm “S is harmed by A if and only if S is made worse off by A than S would have otherwise been had A not occurred” (PowerPoint lecture slides 6). In relation to cheating, the victim of cheating is placed in a worse position than he/she would be in had the cheating not occurred,

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Discussion Whether or Not Cheating is Bad. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/discussion-whether-or-not-cheating-is-bad/
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Discussion Whether or Not Cheating is Bad [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/discussion-whether-or-not-cheating-is-bad/

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