Ethics are a matter of opinion. It varies from culture to culture and society to society. Everyday we encounter experiences that make us question the right moral path. Consider this fictional scenario:
It’s test day in Ms. Barry’s AP Bio class. She spreads us throughout the room and passes out the exams. Under her watchful eye we work silently and nervously, staring at the ceiling and regretting not looking at ‘that one page’ one more time. Ms. Barry suddenly gets up and announces she will be “right back” and admonishes us to stay focused and not to cheat.
Not surprisingly, two rows from your seat your friend and a fellow classmate take out their phones and feverishly search for what you suspect is the test key. They quickly begin bubbling in their Scantrons. You know they found the answers. Now it’s decision time.
Ms. Barry will likely be back in 5-10 minutes, so what do you do? One of the cheaters is a friend, not a close friend, but you’ve been in school with them since kindergarten, you’ve been to their house, know their parents. Should you say something to them? Do you tell them to stop?
The biology tests are marked on a curve so their cheating is not only unfairly raising their grades, but bringing your score down too. The cheating is at the expense of entire class. Do you ask them to share their answers? Should their cheating become a group effort to ace the difficult bio exam?
Is it worth getting caught for the chance at an automatic A? You must decide if your sense of integrity and moral code will allow this departure from honesty and you must be willing to accept the consequences of being found out.
Suppose your moral compass would not permit you to participate in the cheating, but does the unspoken high school code of friendship prevent you from speaking up against their cheating? Now Ms. Barry is back in the room, the cheaters have not been caught and you stayed silent. Regretting not asking them for answers? Furious that they were fast in putting their phones away?
The test eventually ends and the students clear out of class, should you tell Ms. Barry what you saw? Leave an anonymous note? Complain to other friends? Tell your parents? You worry that you will suffer no matter what you do. Either your test grade will be lower because of the high curve the cheaters set or you will suffer consequences for being a rat. It’s a lose-lose situation.
What do you think you should do? What would you do? Are the answers different?