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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default On my honor: Do honor codes work?

    An honor system is a of conduct in which participants are trusted not to take unfair advantage of others.

    Some examples:

    The University maintains an Honor Code because we believe that all members of our community should be responsible for upholding the values that have been agreed upon by the community. A written Honor Code is an affirmation of our commitment to high standards of conduct inside and outside of the classroom.

    Each student
    is charged with the responsibility to refrain from dishonorable conduct. Accompanying this individual commitment to abide by the Honor System is an even more demanding commitment*a responsibility to ask those who violate our standard of honor to leave the University. Accepting these responsibilities is vital to the successful maintenance of our student-run Honor System.

    Academic life
    is essentially shaped by the commitment to honor. Assuming that students will behave honorably, the faculty grants flexibility in the scheduling of most final examinations, and all are taken without supervision. Take-home closed book examinations are a common occurrence. The pledge, “On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unacknowledged aid on this (exam, test, paper, etc.),” expresses the student’s promise that the work submitted is his or hers alone. Students’ dedication to honorable behavior creates a strong bond of trust among them and between them and the faculty. This student dedication and the bond that it engenders also provide the basis for the faculty’s commitment to accepting a student’s word without question.
    I find most honor systems both academically and professionally to be laughable. We work on the honor system at my job and one of my responsibilities is to manage conflicts of interest with professionals (doctors, scientists, and researchers). There are so many competing interests and questionable associations people engage themselves and very few people recuse themselves from participating in activities that are clear conflicts.

    So do you think honor systems practically (not theoretically) work or is it something nice to have in your mission statement but no one really pays any attention to?
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  2. #2
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    I definately believe that honor systems are completely ineffective, in that its a nice idea, it just doesn't translate well into reality. People use loopholes where ever they exist, and the honor system is a giant loophole unto itself.

  3. #3
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Is it possible for the notion of an honor system -- even if practically speaking there is nothing to enforce -- to inspire people to be more honorable? (i.e., trusting them to be honorable leads them to act in honorable ways?)
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  4. #4
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Is it possible for the notion of an honor system -- even if practically speaking there is nothing to enforce -- to inspire people to be more honorable? (i.e., trusting them to be honorable leads them to act in honorable ways?)
    That's the ideal behind an honor system, isn't it?

    I kind of doubt honor systems work. But then again, I'm not totally honorable (some would even say unethical). I'm most interested in avoiding trouble or a bad image, and doing what I what think is best within that framework. I can be honorable, but only if I think honor is appropriate to the situation. I don't believe in honor for the sake of honor.

  5. #5
    Feline Member kelric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    So do you think honor systems practically (not theoretically) work or is it something nice to have in your mission statement but no one really pays any attention to?
    I think that, in most cases, nobody reads mission statements anyway - and would probably be unsurprised by but ignorant of the fact that their organization even *has* an honor code.

    I think that honor codes *can* work, in limited circumstances among small populations, where they're actively enforced and an important part of the culture. Too often though, I suspect it's a case of "we can't afford to monitor this, so we're going to deflect responsibility by making an honor code - and then throw the guilt-trip book at anyone we *do* happen to find violating it." It's a cover-all for "I can't *prove* you did something wrong, but the intent violated the honor code, so discipline (ie, you're fired/expelled) is warranted anyway" situations. It might do something, but such things, if not actively enforced, lend themselves to the slippery-slope situations.

    The people who are most affected by and believe strongly in honor codes are also the ones who're probably the least likely to need something official.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member avolkiteshvara's Avatar
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    No one is naive to believe that honor codes work 100%.

    But I think it can create a small unconscious roadblock that you have to leap over. Once you agree to something, most people feel at least a small sense of accountability to that agreement, even if it is complete bullshit.

  7. #7
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    No. You are either honorable from yourself, or you're not. And if you're not, no mission statement is going to change that. (I'd even argue that education cannot really change it).

    It's a question of personality and internal values, in part imparted to the individual, but not really for the most part.
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  8. #8
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Hmmm a written code of honor might work for those who sits on the the fence... often a small reminder is enough to tip the balance.

    However I think Kelric is right though that the true purpose of such things from the "higher up" isn't what's advertised...
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  9. #9
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    I don't think modern academic Honor Codes work.

    I do think that Honor Codes can work if there is proper social pressure surrounding them. For example a couple hundred years ago someone might abide by a gentlemen's code of honor, where they show certain courtesies toward women like holding the door open, and also when fighting other gentlemen they won't shoot/stab them in the back. These sorts of things worked because a person who did them gained social respect, while the people who didn't were looked down upon. Furthermore "gentlemen" could stroke their own egos by telling themselves that they were in some type of elite group. That sort of thing makes a Code of Honor work. On the other hand a few guilt laden remarks from school administrators won't do the trick.
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    Senior Member Nighthawk's Avatar
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    We had a pretty rigorous honor code at the military school I attended. Classmates were required to turn each other in or face expulsion themselves for toleration. They had student review boards who would decide the guilt or innocence of those who allegedly committed infractions. The rigor of the honor code went so far as for all students to put down pens immediately when the instructor commanded "cease work" at the end of a test period. Failure to do so was considered grounds for expulsion. The honor code was pretty simple ... "a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do."

    In practice, it wasn't too difficult to adhere to ... an it was nice living in an environment where you could take people at their word, not have to lock the door to your dorm room, and everyone was on equal academic footing.

    When I attended grad school it was a joke. I was shocked to see people continue writing on their exams up to an hour after the instructor called time. Cheating and plagiarizing were no big deal either for some ... and I certainly would not have left any of my belongings unattended. It was a rude awakening for me.

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