Ethics Articles

Preparing to teach a graduate law and ethics course his summer I discovered the website of the Institute for Global Ethics  (www.globalethics.org).   I read Rushworth M. Kidder’s book  How Good People Make Tough Choices for background and pointed students to some of its “right versus right” dilemmas for class discussion.  I also signed up for its free weekly Ethics Newsline, a brief and  stimulating collection of news stories, polls, and opinions.  Among other stories this week’s Newsline addresses the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland for fleeing the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to child-sex charges, “academic doping” (the off-label use of drugs such as Ritalin to improve performance on exams), and luxury pen maker MontBlanc’s plan to produce a $24,763 “limited-edition commemorative fountain pen in honor of the 14oth anniversary” of the birth of the “ascetic,” anti-materialistic Mahatma Ghandi.  The Newsline also carries reaction to the previous Newline’s story titled “Cheating Your Way through the Ethics Class” about AcaDemon, “an e-supermarket of terms papers for students determined to plagiarize.”

5 thoughts on “Ethics Articles”

  1. Professor Randall,
    Does it even matter if students take drugs to improve their concentration for a test? Being more focused for a test does not mean that you will perform better on the test. The same cannot be said for steroids and sports. If you take steroids you will be bigger, faster, and stronger which will directly improve your performance in a race. Also, your success on a test does not hinder the success of another student the way it does in sports, getting first place in a race means that someone else gets second and fails. Everyone can get an A in a course but only one person can be first in a race. It is understandable why steroids are banned in sports but should the same standard be applied to students? Taking a pill to enhance your concentration does not put other students at a direct disadvantage or put you at an advantage. Other students could higher a private tutor or study longer to gain a similar or even greater advantage. Furthermore, wouldn’t drug testing of students before a test be a breach of their rights? Students shouldn’t have to change their habits just because they are taking a test.

  2. Academic doping can be directly attributed to the strong competition that is now present in academics. Just like sports, taking prescription pills for “cognitive enhancement” affects others, whether it is through class rank or other forms. Personally, I feel that those that take these pills are trying to place blame of poor grades on something, rather than finding other explanations. The use of a concentration pill could have the same effect as sleeping a full 8 hours rather than pulling an all-nighter before your test. While the affects of academic doping may be beneficial for a said test, I don’t think it would be in the long run. It may make you more alert, but would it actually make you more intelligent? Additionally, there are many safety concerns associated with the prolonged use of a drug that one doesn’t need. With regards to drug testing, I think in the end, people have to the right to do as they choose; it is their body. But, is getting a 4.0 GPA, or being at the top of your class the objective? Is that how we define success? I would much rather know that everything I achieved I did “naturally”, or solely, on my own.

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