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How Metaphors Shape Our Approaches to Plagiarism. Amy E. Robillard Illinois State University January 7, 2010. Our talk about plagiarism is a rhetorical event. Rhetors : You and me as teachers Audience : Students Situation : Explaining plagiarism policies and punishments

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how metaphors shape our approaches to plagiarism

How Metaphors ShapeOur Approaches to Plagiarism

Amy E. Robillard

Illinois State University

January 7, 2010

our talk about plagiarism is a rhetorical event
Our talk about plagiarism is a rhetorical event

Rhetors: You and me as teachers

Audience: Students

Situation: Explaining plagiarism policies and punishments

Rhetors’ assumptions about audience’s values and beliefs: Students are selfish, relatively lazy, and out to get the most benefit from the least amount of work

relatively invisible metaphors for plagiarism
(Relatively) Invisible Metaphors for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is

  • Borrowing
  • Intellectual laziness
  • Lying
  • Disease
  • A plague
  • Cheating (dependent on another metaphor: school is a game with rules)
most invisible metaphor for plagiarism
Most Invisible Metaphor for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is Theft

O’Rourke, Meghan. “The Copycat Syndrome: Plagiarists at Work.” Slate Magazine. 11 January 2007.

Roman satirist Martial gave us its modern sense when he wrote an epigram complaining that another man (whom he labeled a “plagiarius”) had kidnapped his writings (which he metaphorically labeled his slaves) and was passing them off as his own. What had been a metaphor for a slave-stealer—someone who got labor for free—became a symbolic expression for the theft of words. (2)

george lakoff and mark johnson on metaphor
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson on Metaphor

Metaphors we live by

  • Argument is war
  • Affection is warmth

Metaphors are shaped by our most basic sensorimotor experiences

lakoff and johnson philosophy in the flesh
Lakoff and Johnson,Philosophy in the Flesh

“whenever a domain of subjective experience or judgment is coactivated regularly with a sensorimotor domain [e.g., the subjective experience of affection is coactivated regularly with the physical experience of being held closely to another person] permanent neural connections are established via synaptic weight changes. Those connections, which you have unconsciously formed by the thousands, provide inferential structure and qualitative experience activated in the sensorimotor system to the subjective domains they are associated with”(57).

reasoning by means of the metaphor
Reasoning by means of the metaphor

A thief steals an object from its rightful owner.

It is the police’s job to prevent and detect crime.

A thief, once caught, deserves to be punished.

A thief will be punished by the court system.

the metaphor maps the following structure
The metaphor maps the following structure:

The student is a thief.

The teacher is the police.

Punishment is the consequence.

Plagiarism policies spell out appropriate punishment.

Punishment is carried out by university administrators.

therefore when we use the concept theft to reason about the concept plagiarism we get
Therefore, when we use the concept theft to reason about the concept plagiarism, we get

A student intentionally steals an object from its rightful owner.

It is a teacher’s job to detect and prevent plagiarism.

A student, once caught, deserves to be punished.

A student will be punished by an entity more powerful than the teacher

how morality metaphors affect our sense of right and wrong
How morality metaphors affect our sense of right and wrong
  • Well-being is wealth
  • Moral Accounting metaphor
    • Giving is increasing
    • Taking is subtracting
  • A right is an I.O.U.
jonathan lethem the ecstasy of influence a plagiarism
Jonathan Lethem, “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism”

“A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense” (63).

passing off or passing on
Passing off or Passing on

Passing off: I’ve found this great idea and I want you to think it’s mine

Passing on: I’ve found this great idea, and look what it can do to help us rethink x, y, and z. Have you heard about it?

slide13
Psst…

Pass this on.

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