Case 1-1 Harvard Cheating Scandal

Reply to below discussion of at least 140 words ,in addition to the course textbooks, must incorporate at least 1 scholarly citation in APA format. Any sources cited must have been published within

 Reply to below discussion of at least 140 words ,in addition to the course textbooks, must incorporate at least 1 scholarly citation in APA format. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years.

Case 1-1 Harvard Cheating Scandal

  1. Using Josephson’s Six Pillars of Character, which of the character traits (virtues) apply to the May 2012 Harvard cheating scandal and how do they apply with respect to the actions of each of the stakeholders in this case?
  2. Who is at fault for the cheating scandal? Is it the students, the teaching assistants, the professor, or the institution? Using ethical reasoning to support your answer.
  3. Evaluate the ethics of the “regret clause” established for CS50 from deontological and teleological points of view.

For starters, our stakeholders in the situation are the students, the teachers, teacher assistants, and the institution. In this scenario, all of the character traits in Josephson’s Six Pillars of Character apply, albeit it may be in a negative light that they apply. It is hard for the students to get around this ethical dilemma. The first page of the instructions spell out what they could and could not do as it pertained to the exam. The latter part of the text instruction read, “More specifically, students may not discuss the exam with others-this includes resident tutors, writing centers, etc.” (Mintz & Morris, 2020, p. 46). The instructions seem to be clear. Students with the same answers, even the typographical errors, have no leg to stand on. These students violated trustworthiness by being dishonest and breach of integrity. The students also violated the ethical principles of responsibility, fairness, and citizenship. Citizenship, or lack thereof, is displayed because “citizenship includes civic virtues and duties that prescribe how we ought to behave as part of a community” (Mintz & Morris, 2020, p. 19).

Notwithstanding, fault in this scenario should not be assessed to one group. The students may not be the only ones who are culpable. Reading through the text and some articles, although “The instructions on the take-home exam explicitly prohibited collaboration,”  some students seemed genuinely confused about their class responsibilities (Perez-Pena, 2013). The professional obligations of the teachers and assistants are to ensure the students understand what is expected of them and what is expected of the class.

Harvard has since made attempts to update its honor code. The CS50 regret clause is a way for the student to be disciplined for unreasonable acts of dishonesty by turning themselves in within 72 hours of the dishonest act (Harvard College, 2022). According to the text, Teleology considers an act morally acceptable if it achieves the desired result (Mintz & Morris, 2020, p. 21). In the regret clause, committing an unreasonable or unethical act can lead to punishment, albeit not as severe, if reported within 72 hours. Through a teleological view, the act considered not reasonable is a consequence of the action and somewhat condones the unethical act. According to the regret clause, the act is an offense only when the act is revealed. On the other hand, deontological focuses on the rights and intentions of the behavior. If the regret clause is from a deontological view, all acts that are not reasonable are an offense and will be penalized. The Bible says that “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men,” meaning that we should be accountable to God and men (King James Version, 1994, 2 Cor 8:21).


Harvard College. (2022, January 24). Syllabus – CS50. Retrieved from

Mintz, S. M., & Morris, R. E. (2020). Ethical Obligations and Decision-Making In Accounting (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Perez-Pena, R. (2013, February 1). Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal. Retrieved from New York Times: scandal%2Fdocview%2F2215432279%2Fse-2%3Faccountid%3D12085

The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. (1994). Chicago: Moody Bible Institute.

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