To cheat or not to cheat

You can win by cheating,
but at what cost?
Obviously – I am a Humanist – so I am not inclined to cheat as I view it as not only an ineffective way to accomplish my objectives, it would also likely cause me more trouble than just pursuing my objectives honestly.

However, my friend Kent responded to one of my posts about why not to cheat in school by saying he disagreed.
“Consider the business cheat - he/she robs those that are honest by stealing money from customers, suppliers, and from competing business.  Consider the tax cheat - those honest pay more in taxes as a result.  The person that cheats at cards robs his fellow players. ... They cheat because it works.  Why invent time and effort into something when you can talk short cuts? Only those that understand the effect of their behavior on others can understand why we can't cheat, and must play fair.”
And, well, I agree with him. My original post was limited to the subject of education. That’s the problem with writing short posts. They can’t possibly be totally inclusive of all possible situations. Humanism is a situational ethic and so, different situations require their own ethical analysis.  

Kent is quite right – cheating in most situations does indeed hurt other people. The reason good people don’t cheat is because they understand the negative effect it will have on others and being the compassionate people they are, they don’t want to cause others harm.

However, there is still an additional self-serving reason not to cheat. It is this reason that I teach my son.  Cheating makes other people not want to have anything to do with you. If he cheats at monopoly for instance, I stop, get up and leave. He can win that way – but not really since I refuse to finish the game with him. What I want him to learn is that the best way to win is to win honestly. First: cheating victories aren’t very satisfying because you didn’t earn them. But even more important than winning is your social relationships. If you want people to like and trust you, you have to play fair. 

Image: Card by Luigi Diamanti -

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