I catch students plagiarizing their philosophy papers every year and every year they come up with the worst excuses for their actions. Usually, it’s something akin to “I didn’t know I was plagiarizing, so I can’t be held accountable for doing it.” This doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for obvious reasons. No one has yet given me an excuse for plagiarizing that I accepted even though there are plenty of possible excuses I would accept. Here are ten.

1. For a paper on skepticism: “You think I plagiarized, but you cannot rule out the possibility that an evil demon is implanting false memories to make it seem as if my paper is identical to another student’s paper. If you cannot prove that an evil demon isn’t implanting these false memories in you, then you cannot know that I plagiarized.”

2. For a paper on effective altruism: “Yes, I plagiarized, but it would have been wrong not to do so. If I wrote an original paper, I wouldn’t have been able to pick up an extra shift at work, earn an extra $200, and donate that to an effective charity. In asking me to write an original paper, you’re basically asking me to kill a child. Furthermore, you’re obligated to give me an A on this plagiarized paper since, if you don’t, I will cease to donate all my expendable income to effective charities.”

3. For a paper on free will: “Determinism and incompatibilism are both true. Since I did plagiarize, it follows that it was impossible for me to not plagiarize. I can’t violate the laws of physics!”

4. For a paper on metaethics: “Error theory has been shown to be true. There are no moral reasons and there is no moral truth. While I did plagiarize, I had absolutely no reason not to and you can’t truthfully say I acted wrongly by plagiarizing.”

5. For a paper on metaphysics: “You claim that this is the same paper another student wrote, but it’s not. For you see, I used contractions and the other student didn’t. Anytime they wrote ‘it is’ I wrote ‘it’s.’ Given Leibniz’s Law, the Indiscernibility of Identicals, these are in fact different papers.”

6. For a paper on time travel: “I didn’t plagiarize David Lewis’s 1976 American Philosophical Quarterly paper. In 1975, he traveled to the future and plagiarized me!”

7. For a paper on the problem of evil: “Yes, my paper arguing that the evidential version of the problem of evil succeeds was plagiarized, but for good reason. The paper is a piece of performative philosophy. It serves as a prime example of the very issue being discussed.”

8. For a paper on the philosophy of mind: “I didn’t plagiarize that paper. Everything in it was the product of my own extended mind, namely, my brain and excerpts from Wikipedia found on my iPhone.”

9. For a paper on mereological nihilism: “You say I plagiarized some other student’s paper, but no such paper even exists!”

10. For a paper on film aesthetics: “I didn’t plagiarize. I was paying homage to some of the great aestheticians before me. Kudos for catching all the allusions to Kant’s work I slipped in there.”