Stephen Mathis (Wheaton College) just gave me permission to post the video of his “Justifying Academic Honor Codes” talk he gave at University of Minnesota, Morris’ Honor and Ethics conference last April. (I have also posted his paper on the honor scholarship page. He welcomes comments on it.)

Stephen has firsthand experience at schools with very rigorous honor codes indeed, both as a student and a professor, and has a lot of interesting insights on the topic.

Here is an abstract of his paper:

Despite considerable empirical research on student cheating and academic honor codes at colleges and universities, very few philosophers have explored either the normative implications of cheating on academic institutions or the ethical underpinnings of academic honor codes. In this paper, I want to argue that honor codes help to define the individual academic communities in which they arise, and the features those various codes—and communities—share are characteristic of the academy as a whole. If I am right about this claim, then academic honor codes would identify and reinforce the boundaries of the academic community as a moral community. Thus, the best justification for such codes is one which prioritizes the academic pursuit of knowledge above many other interests, including the individual self-interest of the students subject to those codes.