Where does everyone get the moral yardstick they try to measure up to? After a recent conversation with a friend, I found out that he had no moral compunction with reusing old papers, copying someone's work, anything to simplify the assignment... as long as he didn't get caught. Now, I'm not sure how many people will actually admit to it, but somehow I doubt he's the only one that feels that way. I know at Duke, for one, there was no lack of students who were willing to do whatever was necessary to get the grades they wanted. Fraternity and sorority test and homework files, literally copying engineering code, and of course the peering over someone's shoulder during an exam, for such an academically respected school, we had it all. After all, most reasoned, this is what the real world entails.
I'll be the first to admit it. I've cheated before. On an AP government quiz in high school one day, I memorized the multiple choice answers. Everyone else was doing it, it was one of our teacher's many pointless quizzes, and I caved. But TO THIS DAY, that memory still bothers me. I can't imagine how I would handle more major offenses, let alone trying to justify them. It just doesn't feel right, like I'm not being true to myself and my values, if I put forth something that's not my own work or effort. Really, what's the point of your word if it can't be trusted?
Maybe people just don't have high ethical boundaries for themselves. I mean, look at this study about teachers cheating. If our own educators can't themselves behave morally, how can they teach our children to care? Copyright infringements, rampant plagiarism, forging timecards, bosses taking credit for their people's ideas... yes, it's prevalent in the real world, but does that really make it right?
In today's exceedingly competitive world, why do very few people care about ethics? I mean really, who sticks to moral guidelines if it will cost them an extra few hours of their time?