Saturday, December 02, 2006

Professing To Be Wise...

...they look like fools.

Students at the Columbia University School of Journalism were caught cheating on an ETHICS exam.

The course, which includes such issues as "Why be Ethical?" and "Tribal Loyalty vs. Journalistic Obligation," is taught by New York Times columnist Samuel G.
Freedman, who could not be reached yesterday.
Did they expect anything less from a New York Times columnist as their professor?

You can't teach a class on ethics without right and wrong being defined at some point. What did this professor base his ethics course on? Christians have chosen the Bible as our standard, believers of other religions have their book as well, but I never could grasp where unbelievers of any sort get their standard of right and wrong. Without an independent standard, it all becomes arbitrary and relative to the situation.

For example, if I asked you to tell me how long a line was, you would tell me your answer, then I would tell you mine. Then we would get a ruler and measure to see who was correct. That's an independent standard. We recognize and accept that a ruler is the standard to measure length. Without a ruler we would have no way of determining the length of a line.

So in a morally relative world, can somone please explain to me why students cheating on a test is wrong? (I'm assuming the professor did not use a religous book to teach his class on ethics.)

Update: The students were given a new exam question. Here it is courtesy of the Washington Post.
..."You are the executive editor of a newspaper," begins Exam Essay Question III, forwarded to a reporter by a student. "You receive a tip from a credible source that one or more unspecified articles in recent editions of the newspaper contain fabricated material. No more details are given." No one admits responsibility. What do you do?
Interesting question. I'd love to read the answers. I hope someone leaks those too.

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