As I read Stanley Fish’s Plagiarism Is Not a Big Moral Deal (NY Times Opinionator, 8/9/2010), two responses immediately came to mind. What do you think?
(1) I disagree that every sin is learned. My own experience and that of raising my kids (and my own responses to raising them), indicate that there is something not quite right inside which influences our behavior unless grace is given to go an “unnatural direction.” Note: the Biblical story provides helpful perspective on this frustrating condition. Below’s a quote representing Fish’s position:
Whenever it comes up plagiarism is a hot button topic and essays about it tend to be philosophically and morally inflated. But there are really only two points to make. (1) Plagiarism is a learned sin. (2) Plagiarism is not a philosophical issue.
Of course every sin is learned. Very young children do not distinguish between themselves and the world; they assume that everything belongs to them; only in time and through the conditioning of experience do they learn the distinction between mine and thine and so come to acquire the concept of stealing. The concept of plagiarism, however, is learned in more specialized contexts of practice entered into only by a few; it’s hard to get from the notion that you shouldn’t appropriate your neighbor’s car to the notion that you should not repeat his words without citing him. — Stanley Fish. Plagiarism Is Not a Big Moral Deal. NY Times Opinionator. 8/9/2010.
(2) Not practicing plagiarism may be an one of the responses to How do we practice a faithful presence?
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!