Why We Cheat

September 15, 2012

Stephen Gimbel, a philosopher at Gettysburg College, has one view about why people cheat, even those with great capability who do not need to cheat to succeed.  He thinks we’ve come to put too much emphasis on outcomes, and too little on the processes of learning and doing.  He thinks we have come to value extrinsic rewards at the expense of intrinsic ones.  He puts a good deal of the blame on the athletic culture that “winning is the only thing.”

RSA Animate has a different view, one that focuses on human proclivities to rationalize wrongdoing as morally OK.  These view suggests some ways lessen dishonesty and cheating, principally through greater transparency and through finding ways to have people remember the values that are important to them.

I don’t doubt that we put too much emphasis on outcomes and too little on intrinsic rewards.  I don’t doubt that athletics contributes to this.  But on the whole I’m with the folks at RSA Animate on why we cheat.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
This entry was posted in Athletics, Learning, Responsibility and Ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

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