An issue in the news this week throws into relief the ethical issues around free markets. It is an example of a lucrative and disturbing market about which there are serious moral questions. To what do I refer ? The fraudulent practice where students pay for a business to write their college essays for them.
News reports are citing a call by 40+ UK Universities for legislation to outlaw such businesses. But their demand is to ban the businesses who supply, not to prosecute students who cheat.
Let’s just stop and consider what that means.
In the first instance we should note that it means Universities are failing to do their job. Lecturers and professors are employed to assess and develop the capabilities of their students. That’s their job, their responsibility.
Should they not know their subject and their students sufficiently well to be able to tell when students are cheating ?
Either they are incompetent or they cannot be bothered to take the time to check student’s work properly and /or they don’t know their students as they should.
That’s observation One: professional failings on the part of those responsible.
Observation Two: students themselves are not held to be blameworthy.
What exactly does this tell us about the approach academics have to their students ?
In one word: INDULGENT
It is surely immoral to acquit a student from their fundamental moral duty to present their own work. They are over 18; they are morally and legally responsible for their actions. No responsible person should view them otherwise.
But universities are excusing themselves from their responsibility, and extending the same self indulgent mentality to their students.
That is telling: psychologically, philosophically and politically – quite apart from morally.
Psychological: the refusal to be responsible; the blame lies elsewhere.
Philosophically and politically it betrays the politically correct perspective so prevalent in our universities. There is a wrong – but I am not responsible; the culprits are those who exploit it; they should be punished; the State and the law must be invoked to solve this atrocious injustice. Personal responsibility does not enter into it; it is a Collective responsibility. Ergo LEGISLATE.
We are talking a Marxist mentality. We the people are being exploited. We the people are powerless against the exploiter. The capitalist is taking advantage of our predicament. Ergo, ban the capitalist.
And of course the market is exposed as evil, and business as self-centred, immoral and purely profit motivated.
That’s observation 3.
Observation 4. This problem demonstrates beyond a doubt that where a demand exists, a supply will quickly follow. In short, we have a market.
We have to be more exact, a “black market”- an illegitimate market based on the dishonesty of both consumer and supplier. A market supplied by dishonest people supplying made-to -order essays for fraudulent students.
But who is capable of supplying such a market ? People who have the wit and education to answer the questions. Now who might they be, and where are they likely to be found ?
Observation 5. Fraud is fraud – it is immoral and illegitimate activity. As such it should be punished and punished in an exemplary way.
Why do we need yet another law to combat a problem of fraud. Fraud is fraud.
Well the answer is above – the call for yet another law derives from the philosophical and psychological mindset of the university authorities.
In reality, of course, it is their responsibility. It is in their hands to punish students, and to do so in an exemplary way which discourages fraud. Expulsion; refusing degrees; stripping graduates of degrees fraudulently obtained.
But universities won’t want to be seen like that. It smacks of being too authoritarian and lacking compassion. It looks just a bit too …….. Right Wing ! And of course, they likely feel that such an emphatic approach might put prospective students off applying. After all there are a lot of higher educational institutions competing for student clients…
So we are back to the hypocrisy and politicking of the universities. That’s observation 6.
Observation 7. A free market, of course, is neither a “black market” nor a chaotic market. It is a legitimate and properly regulated market which accords a fair deal to all the actors involved; it maintains the moral fabric of a free society; it does not destroy it.
It is a market where regulation is limited and simple, and so effective. It is not a market weighed down with regulations to appease the moral posturing of Left wing purists. Nor is it a market without morals: honesty, transparency and fair dealing are key to the culture of confidence essential to a reputable and sustainable business.
But my concluding observation is this. The Marxist mindset which has invaded and pervades our western culture has displaced the previous cultural mindset informed by the paradigm of Christianity.
In that paradigm the first reaction is to examine our own conscience and actions. It is to meet our own responsibilities first. It is to speak the truth about ourselves, and to safeguard the truth.
But today’s Marxist culture seeks to blame, to find fault elsewhere and to extirpate the object of our loathing. Marxism assumes the workers to be right and exploited. Marxism teaches the capture of the State to implement the revolution which will bring heaven on earth and destroy the Exploiter.
The derided superstition of Christianity however teaches a tried and tested philosophy and psychology. It starts with the individual, and the individual’s responsibility.
Judge not that ye be not judged…… first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the speck of dust out of thy brother’s eye.
The academics can get Parliament to pass all the laws they want. But it won’t solve the problem.
The problem will be solved when they abandon the false mindset they have imbibed and adopt instead a philosophical mindset capable of addressing the issue.
A mindset which teaches personal responsibility and exemplary punishment for irresponsibility and dishonesty.