Legal philosopher to lecture on honor codes, loyalties

Connecticut College takes its academic Honor Code — which is unusual in that it is adjudicated by students — extremely seriously. But is an honor code a social contract in the sense that students surrender certain rights in return for other rights?

Stephen Mathis, an associate professor of philosophy at Wheaton College of Massachusetts, says no. He will explain why and what that means, philosophically, in a lecture, “Academic Honor Coders are Not Social Contracts,” at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Hood Dining Room of the Blaustein Humanities Center. The free event is sponsored by the Connecticut College Department of Philosophy and the Office of Student Life.

Mathis says that if honor codes are not social contracts then “we can much more easily address a number of problems associated with the implementation of [them], including the tensions between loyalty to one’s friends and fidelity to the honor code.”

Andrew Pessin, professor of philosophy, said Connecticut College and its students pride themselves on the Honor Code, so it’s incumbent upon the campus community to reflect on the code’s meaning regularly. Professor Mathis is a national expert on the subject, so his talk will provide the perfect opportunity to do so, he said.

For more information about the event, email

October 9, 2013