In Support of Plagiarism

This university handbook, like most others, contains within it a statement regarding academic integrity which expressly forbids any act of plagiarism. On a basketball court, meanwhile, no one condemns that player who, while dribbling, produces an exact replica of Iverson’s crossover. Just the opposite, in fact: such a player is likely to be considered an asset to his team. The difference? In the latter case, the game offers both a clear end (to score) and a real impediment to that end (his opponent). Academic work frequently lacks both. As a result, novelty becomes an end in itself.

Perhaps there’s some virtue to that model. To effectively negotiate the horrors of life, however, one can’t be concerned with originality. Plagiarism — what might be called a sort of ethical plagiarism — is necessary.


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