Cheating

Law and Philosophy 23 (2):137-185 (2004)
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Abstract

The concept of cheating is ubiquitous in ourmoral lives: It occurs in contexts as varied asbusiness, sports, taxpaying, education,marriage, politics, and the practice of law. Yet despite its seeming importance, it is aconcept that has been almost completely ignoredby moral theorists, usually regarded either asa morally neutral synonym for non-cooperativebehavior, or as a generalized, unreflectiveterm of moral disapprobation. This articleoffers a ``normative reconstruction'''' of theconcept of cheating by showing both whatvarious cases of cheating have in common, andhow cheating is related to, and differs from,other morally wrongful acts, such as stealing,promise-breaking, deceiving, disobedience, anddisloyalty. A paradigmatic account of cheating is developed that entails two elements: First, the cheater must violate a prescriptive (rather thandescriptive), mandatory (rather than optional),regulative (rather than practice-defining), andconduct-governing (as opposed todecision-governing) rule. Second, the rulemust be fair and enforced even-handedly, andmust be violated with an intent to obtain anadvantage over some party with whom therule-breaker is in a cooperative, rule-governedrelationship. Along the way is a discussion ofpuzzling cases of ``judicial cheating,''''``strategic cheating,'''' cheating because``everyone else is doing it,'''' ``cheatingoneself,'''' ``altruistic cheating,'''' and ``ulteriormotive cheating.'''' The article then applies thecheating paradigm in the context of whitecollar criminal law, arguing that the conceptof cheating provides a better framework forexplaining the ``moral wrongfulness'''' thatunderlies and helps to define offenses such astax evasion and insider trading.

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Stuart Green
Rutgers University - Newark

Citations of this work

Doping and Cheating.Jan Vorstenbosch - 2010 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 37 (2):166-181.
Cheating in Business: A Metaethical Perspective.Marian Eabrasu - 2020 - Journal of Business Ethics 162 (3):519-532.
Normative Revisionism about Student Cheating.Odysseus Makridis & Fred Englander - 2020 - Journal of Academic Ethics 19 (1):1-23.

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