Plagiarism, fraud and the erosion of ethics.




 
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Boots
 
May 16th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 

Topic: Plagiarism, fraud and the erosion of ethics.


I will not go into a full on diatribe about this as I would like this conversation to develop naturally without too much framing by me. This is in short a condemnation on all forms of fraud that in light of current events is bothering me. To help I provide the following links...

http://www.lehmanbrown.com/Newsletters/PTO/LB3.html
http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/articl...parentid=43933
http://www.danwei.org/intellectual_p...zes_from_n.php
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10589085/
http://www.hackwriters.com/Teachingchina.htm
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...d/14161137.htm

There are more but this gives you a taste of what I am on about right now. There is also the case a lawyer friend from Australia is working on involving the head of a University that he is proving plagiarised his doctoral thesis.

The questions plaguing my mind are these...

Have we as a race in our self-centered pursuits of instant gratification discarded ethical behaviour?

Do the means always justify the end?

Is this specific to certain cultures or are some cultures simply better at hiding their dishonesty?

I find myself at another of life's junctures where you wonder, is it me or is it the world that is changing. I live and work in a country that if you read the articles you can begin to understand. I am neck deep in lies and no one denies it. The only one who seems uncomfortable with it all is me. I know this is not limited to the China but it is infinitely easier, if you bypass the internet censors, to find more stories of corruption, fraud, lying, cheating and stealing here than anywhere else.

Then of course it could also be my job where I am dealing on a daily basis with people smiling, buying me a beer and lying straight to my face without any compunction. Even when compelled with evidence to the contrary they will stick fast to their story. Its an amazing thing to witness. Agreeing to the validity of the evidence against them yet clinging to their story as though through sheer force of will one can rewrite the laws of the universe... but I shall digress.

What are your thoughts on this subject?
May 16th, 2006  
Ted
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulldogg
The questions plaguing my mind are these...

Have we as a race in our self-centered pursuits of instant gratification discarded ethical behaviour?

Do the means always justify the end?

Is this specific to certain cultures or are some cultures simply better at hiding their dishonesty?
Wow, these are interesting questions you are asking. I haven't read all the links you proved but these question and many examples from daily life paint a pretty clear picture.
For your first question I will change race into mankind. All over the globe people get a clearer picture of the have's and the have-not's. Never has poverty been so vividly clear and everybody feel they have a right of a piece of the pie!
Secondly, I am strongly against the believe that the means justify the end. Sure, reaching your goal is a noble cause. But I, for one, will give up this goal if it means reaching at the expense of others. There is some kind of scale; e.g. the poor, old lady vs. the rich, young man, but in general I won't use any means necessary.
Thirdly, I also think that in certain, very hierarchial societies people prefer being "dishonest" in stead of telling bad news. Indonesia is a nice example where people sent me all over Jakarta when I asked for directions. Instead of saying: "I don't know" the smiled broadly a just gave some kind of answer. Later I found out that telling flatly "no" or other negative answer is not preferred.
May 17th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 
I wrote race but was thinking species, my mistake, and as such agree with your amendment. You raise an interesting point about the haves and have nots and their sense of entitlement. Food for thought to be sure.
--
Boots
May 17th, 2006  
Missileer
 
 
Well, as to being a shameless liar, Kim Jong Il will tell the World that North Koreans are as well off as any other country. Starvation is simply another avenue of respect and dedication to your leader.
May 18th, 2006  
PJ24
 
 
Well, I was going to copy this post and plaster it all over random forums claiming it as my own, but since you guys are going to be so judgemental, you can forget it now.

Quote:
Have we as a race in our self-centered pursuits of instant gratification discarded ethical behaviour?

Do the means always justify the end?

Is this specific to certain cultures or are some cultures simply better at hiding their dishonesty?
1) On the whole, no, I don't think we have. I think there will always be people in society that take the easy road and those will be the people that get the most attention. If you look though, there are more people willing to do what's "right" within their own idea and perception of ethic are than there are those willing to do "wrong." The only difference is, they don't garner any attention, be it from the media or the individuals they are surrounded by.

2) No, not always. Sometimes they do, but more times than not, no.

3) I don't think it is specific to any culture, maybe more prevalent in some cultures than others, however. In some cultures, as Ted pointed out, it is considered bad form to tell another something negative. You can see this in the southern United States a lot. They aren't necessarily meaning to be dishonest, but their cultural rules and ethical foundations tell them you can't be rude to someone simply because you dislike them.


May 18th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 
Very poignant example in your answer to the third question... its opened a new line of thought... more to follow.
May 18th, 2006  
Italian Guy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulldogg
1. Have we as a race in our self-centered pursuits of instant gratification discarded ethical behaviour?

2. Do the means always justify the end?

3. Is this specific to certain cultures or are some cultures simply better at hiding their dishonesty?
First of all, I would want to state what I think of your specific case, Bulldogg. You've been in the PRC for a while now and it isn't the first time you've come up with complaints about the way Chinese deal with ethics. The article you once wrote for my blog was extremely interesting in making me see where the "way of making business" a.k.a. "lack of ethics" in China comes from. Corruption, hypocrisy and double-standards are typical of pretty much every society. But I really believe you're stay in that country has altered your perception of how important those factors are elsewhere, as in the West, in India, or the Arab world. China is probably the furthest-gone on this line of social behavior. You see, uhm, I have studied a lot about different cultures ( societies can have different cultures as the times change, and I'm referring to the very cultures themselves here) and I have found an aspect that is common to most of them: The more loose their ethics get, the closer to the end those cultures are.
Ethics is not some relics from a useless past, ethics has a very precise socio-cultural aspect. It is indeed true that deceiting exists even among other non-human animals (it has a sense, but would be too long to explain here), but ethics is what keeps a society coherent, consistent with itself, strong, functional, and even adaptive (look at how ethical and hierarchical the Japanese society has always been, and it was the first modernized non-Western society, probably today's most modern and most-ethical society in the world... if you ask someone for info on the street they will take you there personally).
Coming from abroad I saw the US as a rather ethical country and that could explain much of its strength: People trust one another and there is a high level of internal cohesion. Majority of Americans pray before their meals, virginity is an important aspect to more Americans than any other people, swearing is rarer than it is in Europe. Much rarer (these are just a bunch of random examples). And still, it is a very modern and adaptative country.
On the other hand countries with low ethical cohesion, such as Russia in the 1980's and 1990's, or some African societies over the last decades, are bound to get weaker. .
Look at how the Roman Empire died. No more shared values, nothing was a taboo anymore, being a Roman had no particular meaning anymore.
Now, like you said, the Communists had eradicated a system of values and principles (=ethics) from China and replaced them with nothing. Now that is the problem. Will the governement of China be able to govern a country where people lie to their counterparts while making business? Where information is censored, where slavery exists, where lies feed the people.

Hence my answers to your three questions would be:

1. No. It depends on the culture, on the society. Some think lack of ethics is an advantage for single individuals or societies, as ethics can play as a burden. In fact I believe it is the other way around.
2. Like PJ said, not always. In fact, they seldom do.
3. Uhm, no. And mind you, there IS a difference between being ethical/sincere and being polite.
May 19th, 2006  
Ted
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IG
Coming from abroad I saw the US as a rather ethical country and that could explain much of its strength: People trust one another and there is a high level of internal cohesion. Majority of Americans pray before their meals, virginity is an important aspect to more Americans than any other people, swearing is rarer than it is in Europe. Much rarer (these are just a bunch of random examples). And still, it is a very modern and adaptative country.
Is this ethics or just politeness and social wishfull behaviour. The true ethics and morals of a man aren't tested a lot nowadays. In a few situations most have once or twice in their lives the true fibers of a man are shown..... Unfortunatly a lot of people do not pass the test on these exams. And I think this isn't significantly different between the US, Europe or Australia.
May 19th, 2006  
PJ24
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted
Is this ethics or just politeness and social wishfull behaviour. The true ethics and morals of a man aren't tested a lot nowadays.
Maybe in your world. In mine, my ethics, morals and convictions are tested almost daily.
May 19th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 
Aye but Ted's a school teacher in a small European country where just about everything is legal and you my friend are in the world of doing "cool " for a living and hold people's lives in the balance.

I may not feel tested daily but its often enough to make me question and re-think it every fortnight or at least feels that way.