Is the following statement valid or invalid? All forms of cheating are ethically wrong. Plagiarism is a form of cheating. Therefore, plagiarism is ethically wrong.

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A philosophical argument is considered valid if the truth of the premises logically create a truthful conclusion.  In this way, an argument based on false premises can still be considered valid.

On the other hand, an argument can only be considered sound if all of the premises are actually true and also logically lead to a truthful conclusion.

On first reading, this argument sounds both valid and sound.  The only questionable part of the above statement is the first premise, "All forms of cheating are ethically wrong."  The question "What is ethical?" could be considered subjective, which makes this a valid and sound argument based on the presumption that cheating is always unethical.

Consider that there might be time where cheating, say, a corrupt system for example, might result in a more ethical situation than the system in place.  In such a case, the first premise of this statement could be considered falsifiable.

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An argument is valid if it is sound and if the premises are actually true.  The argument you have presented here meets both of these criteria and so it is valid.

To be sound, the conclusion must be true if the premises are both true.  This is the case here because if plagiarism is cheating, and if all cheating is ethically wrong, then plagiarism must be ethically wrong.  If those two statements are correct, then plagiarism must be ethically wrong.

So now we ask if the premises are true.  Is cheating ethically wrong?  Is plagiarism cheating?  People might argue about this, but I would assert that cheating is wrong and plagiarism is cheating.

Therefore, the argument is both sound and valid.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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