If by “essay” is understood, au fond, an artifact, an intellectual property, then undergraduate plagiarism is a kind of conversion or unauthorized, unacknowledged use of another’s property, namely, as a token in exchange for course credit, and (cumulatively) for what is called a credential. Into this context, ChapGPT enters as the unsettling emergence of the custom, counterfeit artifact, pawn of a “plagiarism” sans conversion of anyone’s intellectual property, and thus de facto proof against conventional source-searching, to boot. That context, however familiar, belongs to the illiberal academy, trading in illiberal artifacts, that is, trading in academic commodities, things with conventional uses, instrumental goods. It should be no surprise if students, evading inconvenient convention, seek instrumental goods without the trouble of confecting them. That latter possibility, as Aristotle noted long ago, is the mark of such goods.
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