Topic-Appropriate Excuses for Plagiarism in Philosophy Papers


For a paper on time travel: “I didn’t plagiarize David Lewis’s 1976 American Philosophical Quarterly paper. In 1975, he traveled to the future and plagiarized me!”

That’s one of 10 “philosophically legitimate” plagiarism excuses offered up by Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall) over at McSweeney’s. He has a number of good ones, such as:

For a paper on the problem of evil: “Yes, my paper arguing that the evidential version of the problem of evil succeeds was plagiarized, but for good reason. The paper is a piece of performative philosophy. It serves as a prime example of the very issue being discussed.”

For a paper on skepticism: “You think I plagiarized, but you cannot rule out the possibility that an evil demon is implanting false memories to make it seem as if my paper is identical to another student’s paper. If you cannot prove that an evil demon isn’t implanting these false memories in you, then you cannot know that I plagiarized.”

The rest are here. I imagine readers can come up with some of their own. Share them in the comments.

Bridget Riley, “Copy after Seurat’s Bridge at Courbevoie”

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