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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Is Cheating Moral? Kant's perspective

Kant’s deontological ethics says, “An action is moral when it is done out of duty, rather than consequences.” In a test your duty is to answer the questions with whatever you have learned, and the purpose is to show how much knowledge you have gained, without cheating. When someone cheats his action is not done out of his duty. The action is directed towards the consequences, which might be the fear of failing, afraid of being embarrassed, or it might also be to gain benefit easily without putting much effort on studying.

If the intention of the individual performing the action is good then the action can be said to be good. The good intention is good without any qualification, according to Kant. The intention to cheat is not simply morally good. Someone cheats because of an exterior motive which might be the fear or the expectation of gain. “Duty is the necessity of action to be done out of respect for the law.” Cheating is against the law of the school that says not to cheat in tests.
Kant’s categorical imperative states that “you should act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Would everyone follow your action of cheating in test? If everyone cheated there will be no point in cheating. Grades will have no meaning if everyone cheats. You’re cheating in order to gain some kind of unfair advantage over other test-takers, who are not cheating. If everyone cheats, then cheating wouldn’t be unfair and you won’t even get any advantage. There would be no such thing as cheating. You would not therefore want everyone else to cheat and cheating can’t be a universal law.
Cheating is not an action done out of duty with good intention respecting the law, and it can’t be a universal law. Therefore, cheating is not rational and is not morally right as of Kant’s deontological ethics.

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