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?