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.”
Is It Time to Retrain B-Schools? in the 3/14 New York Times contained this revealing, disturbing fact:
A study of cheating among graduate students, published in 2006 in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education, found that 56 percent of all M.B.A. students cheated regularly — more than in any other discipline. The authors attributed that to “perceived peer behavior” — in other words, students believed everyone else was doing it.
How depressing. We need to throw the ethics curriculum out the window and start fresh because whatever we’ve been doing is inadequate. How do you reach someone whose sole value is to make as much money as possible?