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Plagiarism or the act of borrowing other’s words is a phenomenon that many had practiced and is still being practiced, though in niche corners of the world. The very presence of unethical and immoral practice in the academic sphere is misconduct, and most educational institutions strictly prohibit it. Plagiarism is branded as unethical and immoral and is often shoved off to the dungeons. To academicians, it is a sin. This paper elucidates the arguments for and against the question of plagiarism.
Plagiarism leads one to answer questions regarding the originality and the ownership of the text. According to Western philosophy, the beginning of the great monotheistic religion was of celestial origin, and the religious text was a creation of the divine intervention . All the texts created in the classical era by authors like Plato or Aristotle were mimetic . However, with Enlightenment, the imagination shifted towards a modern time wherein the focus from the divine shifted to the humanist subjects.
Nevertheless, once we enter the modernist sphere, the concern over the legal sanction of the text became important, and textual borrowing had to be curbed . Therefore, the postmodern and the poststructuralist arguments arose against the rise of textual borrowings, which were based primarily on philosophical grounds. Many believe that plagiarism is a crime against the academic sphere and therein, it deceives not only the readers but also hurts the interests of the original author of the text .
Granitz and Loewy suggest that students today mainly provide ample reasoning to support their acts of stealing other’s texts from situational ethics. However, it can be pointed out that plagiarism indicates a lack of integrity among academicians and a barrier to intellectual growth.
Gotterbarn, Miller, and Impagliazzo provide an ethical analysis against the act of plagiarism. Plagiarism can be a violation of the commercial, intellectual property, or a copyright violation. They point out that “plagiarism of the most serious kind is a conscious effort” of the author with an explicit intent to misinform . From the utilitarian perspective, as the stakeholders are adversely affected by the act of plagiarism, it is unethical.
However, from the point of consequentiality analysis, a distinction between detected and undetected plagiarism must be addressed. If the act of plagiarism goes undetected, the perpetrator is not maligned with the stigma of theft and the other stakeholders, in their ignorance, remain complacent. Therefore, the argument against plagiarism is based on the loss of the perpetrator in terms of the shame of the act and the loss of the original author. Both provide the biggest reasons why acts of plagiarism should be stopped .
On the other hand of the debate is the argument that strict imposition of rules against plagiarism is a constraint to learning. Such an argument has been put forth by Brian Martin . He points out that one should not try to utilize strict measures to curb the borrowing of ideas from other authors as ideas breed ideas.
With the collaboration of knowledge, proper development of a stream of education is possible. This leads to the development of the knowledge that one mind in seclusion can never create. Therefore, by curbing plagiarism with the aid of strictest tools will only compartmentalize learning preventing its free growth.
The argument put forth by Martin is compelling; however, is overshadowed by the strong arguments of ethicality against plagiarism. Plagiarism is unethical conduct. Many believe that students and academicians need to be trained in the art of borrowing without stealing while creating their text. However, without proper referencing and acknowledgment of the original text, the act of textual borrowing becomes a blatant act of academic theft.
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