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Jeremy G
04-14-2005, 08:55 PM
What happens when you post on this forum asking for some one to do your homework for you?

You get flamed


I've flamed such people, and I believe you should "DYOFH" or do your own -------ing homework.



That being said, some one IM'd asking me to code them a program for Monies. It is as I suspected, and admitted right away to be their home work.

As a coder, I take jobs coding. Is it it right or wrong to "take a job" doing some ones home work??

Discuss.









ps: If you're wondering, I happen to be "Working" right now. I never said I wasn't a hypocrit.

Jeremy G
04-14-2005, 09:01 PM
Also, what if during the coding process you add detective hints into the code insinuating that this code was not written by the individual turning it in.

Say, you know this individual has no experience with C++, and indeed most of the class does not. But you have throw backs to c++ ideas in your c code.

Say, like my bool definition


typedef enum { false = 0, true = 1 } bool;

Or macro's that "simulate" c++ functionality like say my new macro


#define new(c) malloc( sizeof(c) )
#define bnew(c) bTreeNodeI( new(c) ) /*/ uses a constructor */


It's kinda like encouraging poetic justice. Dirty on my part, but rightous big picture wise....

jverkoey
04-14-2005, 09:06 PM
Those would be called Easter Eggs, I believe.

But basically, the general concensus you're going to get here is, no, doing another person's homework is not ok.

This is much like normal subjects in school. Having someone do your homework for you will do nothing for you in the end and will have just been a waste of both people's time.

Jeremy G
04-14-2005, 09:12 PM
Those would be called Easter Eggs, I believe.

But basically, the general concensus you're going to get here is, no, doing another person's homework is not ok.

This is much like normal subjects in school. Having someone do your homework for you will do nothing for you in the end and will have just been a waste of both people's time.


But perhaps the question is more of context based.
I mean, lets say the government hires you to code an efficient search algorythem. They don't tell you what it's for. You do a service, they pay you. Nothing wrong with this right?

What if, it turns out they are going to use this algorythem in an entirely wrong manner. To invade the privacy of it's citizens or some other sinister idea. Now, they tell you this before hand and ask you to do the job. Is it still ok to take the job? Isn't it relative to perspective? It's the ol' guns don't kill people, people kill people argument. Surely theres something to this argument more then "It depends on if you know, or don't know ahead of time"

trippeer
04-14-2005, 09:18 PM
Surely theres something to this argument more then "It depends on if you know, or don't know ahead of time"

Sometimes that's all there is. If someone wants to do something unethical with your code, they probably won't tell you about it. If you have a bad feeling about something, or if an organization has a shady reputation that you don't want to be associated with, then you make your decision based on what you do know. Otherwise, you just go with it. Most of the time code is morally neutral, so I wouldn't lose much sleep if someone used it for ill.

PJYelton
04-14-2005, 09:20 PM
I would say doing someone's homework would be unethical and wrong in almost all circumstances. Schools have rules that say they are not allowed to cheat, and by doing their homework you are helping them circumvent these rules.

That being said, its questionable HOW bad it is. Rent-a-coder sure turns a blind eye, I see lots of homework questions posted there.

Jeremy G
04-14-2005, 09:25 PM
Lucky for me I guess, I started coding with the idea of becomming a hacker. (No, didnt pan ou for me)

But it servers to reitterate my lack of ethical and moral standards.
Money is money.

pianorain
04-15-2005, 07:10 AM
Schools have rules that say they are not allowed to cheat, and by doing their homework you are helping them circumvent these rules.This may be true, but since I don't go to that school, what will they do to me?

The only times I would do something like this is when the problem is sufficiently interesting, or absurdly simple. The interesting problems are just for my own amusement, and the simple problems usually end up looking something like the following:
#include <stdio.h>
OO(O0){return !(O0 & 1);}main(_OO,_00)
int*_00;{int _0O;char _O0[]="How many\
integers will you enter? \0is\0odd.\n\
\0even.\n\0Enter an integer: \0";for(
_00=&_0O,printf("%s",_O0),scanf("%d",
_00),_00=&_OO;_0O;printf("%s",_O0+51),
scanf("%d",_00),OO(*_00)?printf("%d %s\
%s",*_00,_O0+35,_O0+44):printf("%d %s \
%s",*_00,_O0+35,_O0+38),_0O--);return _0O;}I don't think the moral dilemma is yours. The person approaching you has decided that they don't care about learning and will attempt to get a good grade through other means. They have already decided to make a poor choice, but their poor choice doesn't transfer the responsibility to make a good choice to you. If you don't help the derelict student, the student will simply go elsewhere. I have no problem profitting from the morally deficient.

ober
04-15-2005, 07:17 AM
Everything has a price, right?

joshdick
04-15-2005, 08:21 AM
It's blatantly unethical, and you know it.

ACM's Code of Ethics (http://www.acm.org/constitution/code.html)

You're just looking for a way to rationalize irresponsible behaviour.

pianorain
04-15-2005, 09:30 AM
I'm game.

Exactly where in that code of ethics would you say that doing someone else's homework for money is a violation? I attempted a quick lookover through sections 1 and 2, but I didn't see anything explicit.

Further, I am not a member of the ACM. Why should I allow them to dictate to me what my ethical standards are?

scoobasean
04-15-2005, 01:41 PM
But perhaps the question is more of context based.
I mean, lets say the government hires you to code an efficient search algorythem. They don't tell you what it's for. You do a service, they pay you. Nothing wrong with this right?
You're comparing apples and oranges. Is the government taking a class in programming where they should be learning how to use the lanuage? No! There's a big difference between a company asking for a coding job and a student looking for someone to do their homework. All you're doing is helping them dig themselves into a deeper hole.

VirtualAce
04-15-2005, 02:37 PM
Doing someone else's homework is wrong.

Felix
04-15-2005, 03:28 PM
Dilemma.

swoopy
04-15-2005, 05:47 PM
It's blatantly unethical, and you know it.

ACM's Code of Ethics (http://www.acm.org/constitution/code.html)

You're just looking for a way to rationalize irresponsible behaviour.
I gotta agree with JoshDick and Bubba. It's wrong. If someone posts an interesting problem, solve it for yourself, but don't post your solution. Give the poster a general idea of how to start solving the problem.

IfYouSaySo
04-15-2005, 05:50 PM
I'll admit to doing someone's homework once. I didn't want to at first, but then I enjoyed it. Here is the story:

He said, "I have these three assignments due, and I can't do them on my own, can you do some for me so I will pass?" And I said, "Why did they give you more than is reasonable to complete?" And he said, "Well, I didn't do the assignments, and so now they are late, but I talked to the instructor and she said if I got them done, I won't be penalized, so how many will you do for me?" And I said, "I would rather that you did them, and I will help you (alot) to get them into form that will get you full credit." And he said, "Like I said, I don't really have time to do them, and anyway I have to study for this other class, because I didn't go to class for two weeks and..." So I say, "Fine, give me one of the programs, I'll write it tonight." And he says, "That's so cool, thanks, I'll buy you a beer next week." So he's taking a C++ 101 course, and it's some simple program like reading from a file, calculating averages of student grades, and then writing it back out to an output file. I decide to use std::copy to read the file in to a std::vector, and I think std::transform to compute averages and write it back out to some ostream object. Because I figured that was probably how they learned in class, if you know what I mean. And also, maybe because I wrote it real fast, but I had this bad habit of doing curly braces like this:



if (error) {cout<<"There was an error<<endl;}


But the program was very short, and it worked, so I fired it back to my friend via e-mail. And a week later he bought me a beer, and was very appreciative of what I had done.

And FWIW, he ended up not getting credit for the assignment, although the instructor I think gave him an opportunity to come to her office to explain the code, which he declined. And he switched to be an IS major, which is supposed to be easier than CS, after all.

-KEN-
04-15-2005, 06:28 PM
I helped my brother's roommate pass his (college) sophomore CS class, while I was only in my sophomore year...of highschool.

I didn't think of it as unethical; but then again, I didn't really care. What the hell are ethics going to do besides make me feel bad about it?

The Brain
04-15-2005, 06:31 PM
...he ended up not getting credit for the assignment, although the instructor I think gave him an opportunity to come to her office to explain the code, which he declined.

I think this is the best part of the story.

alphaoide
04-15-2005, 06:40 PM
I think this is the best part of the story.

I have fun watching people in their 4th year of college with knowledge of that of freshmen. Seriously, I know a lot of my friends just like that. If I had my own company, I'd definitely not hire these people. I would feel sorry for those who end up hiring them just because they have a bachelor degree.

cerin
04-15-2005, 09:36 PM
A word about code of honor: these problems are supposed to be solved by you individually, any cases of dishonoring this code will lead to immediate disqualification of all persons involved from the entire module, no matter you are the source or the destination.

Stuff like this is all over the assignments what morons to cheat?!

I think if you just slip things into the code the people that are attempting to cheat Either:
a. Won't notice and turn it in
b. Will find it and never bother you again
c. Wille say nah I'm going to be good take you code!
A, I'm sure is the most likely situation.

I think that I might possibly help someone with their homework even though I could possibly screw it up. I say go for it. If they strive to comprehend the code you gave them than it helps them that much more especially since they can ask you. If they just want a grade, give them the grade and watch them get screwed.

nvoigt
04-17-2005, 10:05 AM
This may be true, but since I don't go to that school, what will they do to me?


One day, you will go out of that door and school will be over. Then you will see that for the rest of your puny life you are damned to have coworkers (www.dilbert.com). This is the point in time where you wished no one ever helped them cheating and you wished they'd rather failed than cheated their way into the workforce and right into your team :rolleyes:

pianorain
04-18-2005, 07:07 AM
One day, you will go out of that door and school will be over.You mean, two years ago? ;) You might have a point about the coworker thing, but in my experience, someone that is willing and ready to pay for a completed homework assignment is not someone that's going into the field. It's either: a) someone forced into taking a programming course due to the vagaries of college requirements, or b) someone making a terrible mistake about their choice of career.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 08:11 AM
I'm game.

Exactly where in that code of ethics would you say that doing someone else's homework for money is a violation? I attempted a quick lookover through sections 1 and 2, but I didn't see anything explicit.

Further, I am not a member of the ACM. Why should I allow them to dictate to me what my ethical standards are?

I was hoping I wouldn't have to spoon-feed you the Code of Ethics, but here you go ...


1.6 Give proper credit for intellectual property.

Computing professionals are obligated to protect the integrity of intellectual property. Specifically, one must not take credit for other's ideas or work, even in cases where the work has not been explicitly protected by copyright, patent, etc.

2.3 Know and respect existing laws pertaining to professional work.

ACM members must obey existing local, state,province, national, and international laws unless there is a compelling ethical basis not to do so. Policies and procedures of the organizations in which one participates must also be obeyed. But compliance must be balanced with the recognition that sometimes existing laws and rules may be immoral or inappropriate and, therefore, must be challenged. Violation of a law or regulation may be ethical when that law or rule has inadequate moral basis or when it conflicts with another law judged to be more important. If one decides to violate a law or rule because it is viewed as unethical, or for any other reason, one must fully accept responsibility for one's actions and for the consequences.

By passing off someone else's work as his own, the student who contacted him is failing to give proper credit to the true owner of intellectual property in clear violation of 1.6. Furthermore, you can bet that the student's college has policies on academic honesty that would be broken by such blatant cheating, and breaking such a policy violates 2.3.

And if you don't want to follow the ACM Code of Ethics, that's fine. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. You should recognize, however, that that is the prevailing code of ethics for computer professionals. Furthermore, if you ever hold a job in the field, you will be subject to your company's code of ethics.

Listen, ethical standards aren't about people trying to control your actions for the hell of it. They needn't even be about doing the right thing just to feel good inside. Professional ethical standards have the most to do with doing the right thing because it is the responsible thing to do, because it is the pragmatic thing to do, and most importantly because if you don't follow them on the job, you could easily be canned.

You should get in the habit of following ethical guidelines early in your adult life, because when you enter the professional world, you will be expected to be ethical and failure to do so can cost you your job.

pianorain
04-18-2005, 08:45 AM
By passing off someone else's work as his own, the student who contacted him is failing to give proper credit to the true owner of intellectual property in clear violation of 1.6. Furthermore, you can bet that the student's college has policies on academic honesty that would be broken by such blatant cheating, and breaking such a policy violates 2.3.I agree completely. I agree that it would be unethical for me to pay someone else to do my homework. It would be unethical because of the reasons you just stated. However, this doesn't address Jeremy G's original issue. Is it ethical to do someone else's homework (with or without pay)? I contend that it is. From the programmer's point of view, it's simply a pay-for-code job. What the student does with the code after that is up to the student.

I'm willing to concede that doing someone else's homework may be aiding an unethical practice on the part of the student. That may make doing someone else's homework unethical.

Govtcheez
04-18-2005, 08:54 AM
> You should recognize, however, that that is the prevailing code of ethics for computer professionals.

Their website says they have 80,000 members. There are far, far more than 80,000 computer professionals in the world. I don't see how you can back up this claim.

> You should get in the habit of following ethical guidelines early in your adult life

Pot, kettle - play any minesweeper at work lately? If you have, you're being paid for work you're not doing. That's pretty damn unethical.

I agree with pianorain here. It's unethical for the student to look for someone to do it for him, but he'll likely fail in the corporate world if that's the way he operates. It's not unethical to take a project like that.

What if someone asks you to do a project for them, and you don't know it's homework?

joshdick
04-18-2005, 09:24 AM
Their website says they have 80,000 members. There are far, far more than 80,000 computer professionals in the world. I don't see how you can back up this claim.

Maybe I should have said that it's "one of the prevailing code of ethics for computer professionals," but besides IEEE, I don't know of any larger professional organizations for programmers. If you know of any, do tell.


Pot, kettle - play any minesweeper at work lately? If you have, you're being paid for work you're not doing. That's pretty damn unethical.

No, I haven't played any minesweeper at work since my boss told me not to on the first day. Any time in between projects at work I spend at sites like these learning more about programming. That's an ad hominem anyway, so I'll spend no more time on it.



I agree with pianorain here. It's unethical for the student to look for someone to do it for him, but he'll likely fail in the corporate world if that's the way he operates. It's not unethical to take a project like that.

What if someone asks you to do a project for them, and you don't know it's homework?

Well, I agree with Kant that it's human will alone that is ethically right or wrong. If a programmer in good faith completes a program for someone but doesn't know it's homework, then that programmer hasn't done anything unethical. I think that's a bit of a red herring, however. Not only is that not at all what this discussion is about, but I find it unlikely that a programmer would be unable to discern whether the project is for homework -- at least homework for introductory programming classes.

You say it's not unethical to take a project like that, but you fail to give reasons. Well, I will make my case explicitly, and I encourage you to do the same.

Using the first formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology, it is clear that universalization of a maxim like "It is ethical to do one's homework for them" leads to absurdity. By having someone else do the homework, it abolishes the meaning of homework.

Using the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology, it is clear that doing one's homework for them is unethical, for it treats certain moral agents, namely professors, as means to an end rather than people in and of themselves who deserve respect. Professors, as moral agents, deserve to be treated with respect; therefore, they should not be hoodwinked by students trying to pass off someone else's work as their own. The programmer who would be party to this deception is also morally responsible for treating the professor as an end; thus the programmer's actions are also unethical.

Using Social Contract Theory, it is clear that doing someone's homework for them breaks the social contract. When a student matriculates at a university, they agree to follow the policies of the university. The student is trying to circumvent those policies, and the programmer is acting as an accomplice to this; thus, both are engaging in unethical activity.

Using Virtue Ethics, it is painfully clear that there is nothing virtuous about this. The student is harming himself by failing to gain experience from completing the assignment and is not cultivating virtue. In addition to contributing to the student's harm, the programmer isn't cultivating virtue either. One might argue that the programmer is practicing his skills by completing the assignment, but really the assignment is likely beneath the programmer's skill level and thus not challenging the programmer adaquately or contributing to his virtue.

Bring it ;)

pianorain
04-18-2005, 09:54 AM
Ha...excellent.
Using the first formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology, it is clear that universalization of a maxim like "It is ethical to do one's homework for them" leads to absurdity. By having someone else do the homework, it abolishes the meaning of homework.I agree. Take good note of what you said, though: "By having someone else do the homework..." That statement is on the part of the student, not the programmer. Does the following statement also hold? "By doing someone else's homework, it abolishes the meaning of homework." I think so. I'll accept that.
However, it also seems that the universalization of any maxim leads to absurdity.
Using the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology...<snip> The programmer who would be party to this deception is also morally responsible for treating the professor as an end; thus the programmer's actions are also unethical.I disagree with the bolded section. Why is the programmer morally responsible for the actions of the student? The programmer is not decieving anyone. Indeed, the programmer may well create his/her code in such a way that identifies himself/herself as the programmer.
Using Social Contract Theory, it is clear that doing someone's homework for them breaks the social contract. When a student matriculates at a university, they agree to follow the policies of the university. The student is trying to circumvent those policies, and the programmer is acting as an accomplice to this; thus, both are engaging in unethical activity.Like I said in my previous post, I might agree to this. I think the accomplice issue is a weak argument, but I have no way to back that up.
Using Virtue Ethics, it is painfully clear that there is nothing virtuous about this. The student is harming himself by failing to gain experience from completing the assignment and is not cultivating virtue. In addition to contributing to the student's harm, the programmer isn't cultivating virtue either.I think virtue ethics is a terrible way to view any issue. From EntropySink, "I reject your reality and substitute my own." Seriously, it seems to me that there are plenty of things that cultivate no virtue but are still necessary. Additionally, on the part of the programmer, there are plenty of oppertunities for him/her to cultivate virtue. A couple of examples:
a) The programmer could practice his/her bargaining skills to get the highest pay for his/her services.
b) The programmer could practice his/her ability to meet a deadline.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 10:56 AM
I really don't understand how you can continue to defend your position. I think we're all in agreement here that the student who passes another's work off as his own is engaging in unethical behavior. Yet you continue to assert that a programmer is doing nothing wrong by willingly and knowingly facilitating that unethical activity without providing any cogent argument in your favor.

Under Deontology, it is human will alone which can be ethical or unethical. I think it is clear that it is the will of the programmer to disregard all professional ethical standards, the academic honest policy of the student's institution and any consideration of the student's professor -- a moral agent who deserves consideration -- just to make a buck. The will of the programmer is immoral.

That's just looking at it from one ethical prespective, but I can't think of many valid ethical theories that don't hold accomplices morally responsible.

How can you not hold them responsible? Are you suggesting it's perfectly ethical to drive a getaway car for bank robbers? Do you think it's not at all questionable to give a gun to a known murderer?

Every one of us must consider ethical questions for ourselves, for it is the individual responsibility of every moral agent. Likewise, the consequences of your actions -- whatever form they may take -- are also solely yours.

Yet in light of the fact that no one encouraging cheating in this thread has provided a cogent argument in their favor, I have to say this: Stop kidding yourselves. If you really think that your position is morally superior, then good for you. That choice is yours as are its consequences. But please don't act as if you have any ethical reasons for your position when you're doing nothing more than rationalizing your own greed.

Govtcheez
04-18-2005, 10:57 AM
> That's an ad hominem anyway, so I'll spend no more time on it.

All I'm saying is that maybe you should think before lecturing other people on what's considered "proper ethics". This isn't a formal debate, so saying "omg ad hom" is a cop-out.

I'm not going to argue theories of ethics with you; my system of ethics is based upon my experiences and observation, not from what I've learned in books (omg ivory tower fallacy or somesuch nonsense). Valuing the professor's relationship to the problem does make me change the way I'm thinking a bit, but to be honest, I've been screwed over by enough professors that I don't really care. I maintain that it was wrong for the student to ask for his work to be done, but I'll give you that it's a grey area as far as the programmer is concerned.

Also, professors are a means to an end. In practice, most people don't care what you've learned in school; they care that you have a degree. If you bring knowledge along with that, that's just icing on the cake.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 11:06 AM
The only thing I think I'm lecturing about here is being honest with oneself. If you have no consistent ethical theory or moral compass or anything resembling a cogent argument to support your position, then please don't act as if your position is defensible or even worth arguing over.

As for arguing my position, I was just looking for a stimulating exchange of ideas, not a pulpit from which to lecture. I think it's good for members of a profession like us to discuss ethical dilemmas they face. I think it's good to have an open forum so that many sides may be discussed. But merely stating an opinion without a supporting argument doesn't help much of anything.

I think it's worth noting that there is not a lack of good arguments supporting the claim that it's not unethical to take the job. I'm actually surprised that with all the people here, no one pointed out the utilitarian point of view that no one is harmed by this activity.

Govtcheez
04-18-2005, 11:10 AM
> If you have no consistent ethical theory or moral compass or anything resembling a cogent argument to support your position, then please don't act as if your position is defensible or even worth arguing over.

Ah, I see. So you're not allowed to argue ethics unless you have read the wikipedia entry on it and can rattle off a couple of theories? That's a good argument.

> not a pulpit from which to lecture

Read your posts in here and tell me that.

> no one pointed out the utilitarian point of view that no one is harmed by this activity.

That's been pointed out quite a few times.

Sang-drax
04-18-2005, 11:20 AM
no one is harmed by this activity.
Is that true?

If I recieve a fake degree from an university, no one (with a real degree) is directly harmed. But now I'm competing with them over the same jobs, so everyone with a real degree is harmed a little.

It's like printing money. If I print one million for myself and use it, everyone with real money is harmed a little because their money will be worth less than they were before.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 11:26 AM
I'm not saying one need to subscribe to a certain theory or have formal training in ethics to form an ethical argument. What I'm saying is you have to form an ethical argument to form an ethical argument. Instead of constructing cogent arguments, it seems to me that most people in favor of cheating are content to state their opinion and then move on. That adds nothing to the conversation. Only through reasonable arguments in support of a position is anyone benefitted. I know you think otherwise, but I am sincere when I say that I think it is for the good of us all to have discussions on issues like this -- provided we appeal to reason.

As for the utilitarian argument in favor of cheating, one could say that it was alluded to in a few of the early posts, but I don't think it's been adaquately voiced. I challenge you to show that assisting a student in cheating satisfies the Greatest Happiness Principle.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 11:28 AM
Is that true?

No, but I thought I'd let them make their case before I rebut it ;)

Regardless, your argument is succintly put.

Govtcheez
04-18-2005, 11:36 AM
> No, but I thought I'd let them make their case before I rebut it

Oh you are so damn smart! Wow, I shudder at the very thought of debating you further!

You are the first person to ever make my ignore list. Congratulations. If you actually listen to what other people are saying instead of just trampling them with "I am so smart and you are so dumb", you'll make it off. Have a good time.

pianorain
04-18-2005, 11:39 AM
The only thing I think I'm lecturing about here is being honest with oneself. If you have no consistent ethical theory or moral compass or anything resembling a cogent argument to support your position, then please don't act as if your position is defensible or even worth arguing over.My bad...I didn't realize I needed some formal training before expressing my viewpoints. My moral compass is my own conscience. While it doesn't seem right to do someone else's work for them, I have difficulty finding logical ideas explaining why it is wrong. Like I've said twice before, the accomplice idea may work, but then again it may not. I have no idea what a "first formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology" may be (even though I could Google it if I really wanted to), but I do know that one cannot universalize this accomplice axiom either.

How would you state it? "It is unethical to aid anyone, either directly or indirectly, in an unethical act." That also seems absurd, since we don't persecute gun manufacturers for making weapons that other people use for unethical acts. I think this particular issue is very much the same. The programmer is producing a product which the student can use as he/she wants.
As for arguing my position, I was just looking for a stimulating exchange of ideas, not a pulpit from which to lecture. :rolleyes: Remember saying this?
The only thing I think I'm lecturing about here is being honest with oneself. ;)
edit: Man...I need to type faster.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 11:51 AM
Oh you are so damn smart! Wow, I shudder at the very thought of debating you further!
Whatever your reason, you're not debating me. And I contend it's because you cannot. Instead of attacking me personally, prove me wrong.

Pianorain, I think you bring out an important distinction. I don't think it's unethical to sell a car or a hunting rifle just because it could be used to kill someone. What I do think is unethical is handing a loaded gun to a person who you know will use it to kill someone.

Put differently, I think there's a significant difference when something has substantitive ethical uses, as a car or hunting rifle does, as opposed to something that has only an express unethical use, as a commissioned homework assignment does.

Also, there is a difference when the facilitating agent has specific knowledge that their product will be used for unethical purposes. If one acts in good faith to provide a service without knowledge that it will be used unethically, then that person is not morally responsible. That is not the case here, however. The programmer was specifically told that his program would be turned in for homework. That makes his position far less defensible.

pianorain
04-18-2005, 01:34 PM
After doing a bit of research, I'll agree with you that viewing this issue from a deontological viewpoint leads to the conclusion that doing someone else’s homework is wrong. However, I disagree with the principle of deontology.

Consider the age-old argument: Assume you and your family live on some island. Your family is not wealthy, but they make enough to survive. Tragically, one of your family members catches the terrible Zyrgonian Plague, a vicious and decidedly lethal disease. There is a tyrannical pharmacist on the island that holds a cure for the disease, but he is unwilling to give away or sell it. However, you have it within your power to steal some of the medicine away from the evil pharmacist. Is it ethical to steal the medicine?

From the limited amount that I understand deontology, it would not be ethical according to your "first formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology." There is no rule that can be universalized from that action. In fact, from this theory, it would seem that no form of rebellion or uprising against an unjust government would be ethical either. According to this theory, lying is unethical, even those "polite lies" that are sometimes necessary.

Succinctly, I disagree with deontology because it attempts to crunch everything down to a simple boolean. I think it has its uses, but I also think that there are some gray areas where it fails to work.

Getting back to programming, you're correct in saying that I really need to make more of a formal statement. I don't think it's unethical for a programmer to do a student's homework. The student will engage in unethical practices when turning in this homework, but ultimately the harm also falls on the student. Using a bit of common sense, it's unpractical to think that a student could go through their entire college education by buying homework from others. The student would eventually be tested and would fail due to not knowing the necessary material. Further, assuming that the student did manage to get a degree, the student would fail to operate as an employer would expect someone with a degree to operate. No part of this harms anyone except for the student.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 01:55 PM
Succinctly, I disagree with deontology because it attempts to crunch everything down to a simple boolean. I think it has its uses, but I also think that there are some gray areas where it fails to work.

Yes, Deontology does not produce conventional responses in some situations, and this is a valid problem with using it all the time. Ethical theories aren't meant to be imperatives, however. They're just tools to guide one in their decision making.

I look at it like this. They're useful as a group to examine a situation from multiple angles. They're also useful for constructing ethical arguments. Personally, if almost all of them say X is unethical, I take that as a good indication that X is most likely unethical. In the most controversial cases, however, one likely encounters disagreeing conclusions, and that's when a person must simply make a choice for oneself after weighing each prespective.


The student will engage in unethical practices when turning in this homework, but ultimately the harm also falls on the student. Using a bit of common sense, it's unpractical to think that a student could go through their entire college education by buying homework from others. The student would eventually be tested and would fail due to not knowing the necessary material. Further, assuming that the student did manage to get a degree, the student would fail to operate as an employer would expect someone with a degree to operate. No part of this harms anyone except for the student.

I think this doesn't take into account several prespectives. There is the potential for harm caused by an ill-trained programmer in the professional field. Although we'd like to think that such a person would never get a job, we must face the reality if not the strong possibility that that is not the case. And that reality, sadly, is frightening. Software errors have caused patients to be severely burned by radiation, missile defense systems to fail, allowing soldiers to die needlessly, and multi-million dollar spacecraft to fail spectacularly, costing all taxpayers.

Also, as Sangdrax pointed out, when one student receives a degree dishonestly, the degrees of everyone else devalues, harming many.

This leads me to a criticism of Utilitarianism: Performing the utilitarian calculus is subjective. Is the good caused by a few CS students not having to do an assignment greater or less than the bad done to all others with CS degrees? And how do you factor in the harm caused to the student's college?

Another criticism of it is that it's difficult to calculate. How would you go about estimating the risk involved in letting an ignorant programmer out into the workforce?

One last question for you: Is it ethical to participate in something that you know will harm the student?

Jeremy G
04-18-2005, 02:44 PM
Is that true?

If I recieve a fake degree from an university, no one (with a real degree) is directly harmed. But now I'm competing with them over the same jobs, so everyone with a real degree is harmed a little.



This was an interesting argument on the utilitarian aspect but I don't think it a correct one. The key part of the statment is that now the man with the <fake> degree is competing with people with real degrees. This falls back to a darwinian concept, if this man can win the contract through the interviewing process and have no formal education, then naturaly speeking he deserved it more then some one that had to be trained to do it.

Even disregarding the natural innate ability to do it over a learned ability you still have the fact the man got the job.
I mean, the degree qualification is generaly a weed tool for employers to weed out the untrained. However, even after that initial filter they then compare several applicants to each other and take the over-all best. The fact the man with a fake degree wins the job over the man with a real degree just goes to point out the (more)worthlessness of teh real mans degree.

pianorain
04-18-2005, 03:06 PM
I think this doesn't take into account several prespectives. There is the potential for harm caused by an ill-trained programmer in the professional field. Although we'd like to think that such a person would never get a job, we must face the reality if not the strong possibility that that is not the case.Unfortunately, I think this is one point that we'd be debating in a vacuum. I don't think that a cheating student would get and keep a job; you do. I don't think that a cheating student would get a diploma; you do.
And that reality, sadly, is frightening. Software errors have caused patients to be severely burned by radiation, missile defense systems to fail, allowing soldiers to die needlessly, and multi-million dollar spacecraft to fail spectacularly, costing all taxpayers.Are these software errors caused by uneducated programmers or human programmers that make mistakes? I don't know. Both are capable of making the same mistakes.
This leads me to a criticism of Utilitarianism: Performing the utilitarian calculus is subjective. Is the good caused by a few CS students not having to do an assignment greater or less than the bad done to all others with CS degrees? And how do you factor in the harm caused to the student's college?If it is a CS student that is cheating, then it is my opinion that the CS student will be found out at some point during the college education, such as an in-class exam or programming assignment. I don't believe that there is any harm to the college. The college gets your money either way.
One last question for you: Is it ethical to participate in something that you know will harm the student?From deontological, utilitarian, and personal points of view, it isn't. According to deontology, that would be treating the student as a means (to satisfy greed or other ends) instead of as an end. This is the point I believed that you should have made when mentioning the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative of Deontology. According to utilitarianism, it would be ethical only if I gained more than the student lost. In general, I don't think that's possible. And from a personal point of view, I believe that when one of us is diminished, we are all diminished. I think that's the strongest argument against doing someone else's homework.

Jeremy G
04-18-2005, 03:25 PM
Unfortunately, I think this is one point that we'd be debating in a vacuum. I don't think that a cheating student would get and keep a job; you do. I don't think that a cheating student would get a diploma; you do.


Just a tid bit here, college is certainly different from highschool however:
In my highschool we had a validictorian (sp), smart girl did all homework on time, did excellenty on tests etc. Truely deserved the title. However, the second place validictorian (i forget the term) was a jackass. He turned in all homework, but he copied his from other peoples. He did well on tests, but cheated on a couple. The point is, that while the concept of eduction, and testing might be sound the execution is not always. Truthfully, I'm in community college right now and taking a java 3 class--another student has already recieved his AS emphasis on computer programming and I find his "skills" to be severly lacking. However, he has managed his way through the system thus far (first 2yr degree) and is well on his way to the second.

B0bDole
04-18-2005, 03:48 PM
We just went over some of those words used by joshdick in intro to philosophy, maybe he took that class. I hate that class btw, stupid gen eds.

joshdick
04-18-2005, 04:37 PM
We just went over some of those words used by joshdick in intro to philosophy, maybe he took that class. I hate that class btw, stupid gen eds.

I took Computer Ethics, a required philosophy course for all CS majors at Drexel University. I enjoyed the class, and I learned a lot. I think it's a great idea for college students to be taught professional ethics.

VirtualAce
04-18-2005, 06:07 PM
I think it's worth noting that there is not a lack of good arguments supporting the claim that it's not unethical to take the job. I'm actually surprised that with all the people here, no one pointed out the utilitarian point of view that no one is harmed by this activity.


And you wrote all that gobbly gook up there for what? We are programmers not philosophers and if you coded more than you defended the absurd , we'd all be better off.

There isn't a moral dilemma here for me.

alphaoide
04-18-2005, 07:32 PM
Some informal guidelines to discover if an ethical dilemma exists

1. Shushers. Are there these people who recognize unethical action but mistakenly feel it just justified if kept secret?

2. The Mom Test. Would you tell your mother what you did? Would you like it if your mother did what you did? This test simply discovers wheter you would be proud or ashamed of an action.

3. The TV Test. How would you feel if you saw your situation described on TV or in the New York Times? Would the story make you look good or bad? How would the millions of viewers or readers react?

4. The Market Test. If a situation passes the Market Test, it is more likely to be ethical. Would you use your behavior as a marketing tool? In other words, would publicizing your action reap praise or criticism?

5. The Smell Test. Does the situation "smell"? Do you just feel in your bones that there's a problem, but you can't pin down?

Source: "Ethical Decision Making and Information Technology: An Introduction with Cases." Ernest A Kalman, John P. Grillo