I'm putting together a little article about integrity.  Have a think about it.  What does integrity mean to you, and what does it mean not to have integrity? 

This is as far as I've got.  I think it's good to be wide-ranging on the subject, as this is more informative. 



Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  

Jesus – Matthew 23:26-28


Above all, with integrity comes simplicity and confidence.  You can act with force and strength, you can be straightforward and look people in the eye.  


What is integrity?  

Commitment to morality


To have integrity is to have unconditional and steady commitment to moral values and obligations.  For such a person, the fundamental question whether to conduct life on the plane of self-concern or of moral seriousness has been decisively resolved, though particular life situations will doubtless continue to put that commitment to strenuous test.  This moral commitment becomes a crucial component in his or her sense of identity as a person: it confers a unity (integration) of character, and even a simplicity upon the man or woman of integrity.  What integrity cannot guarantee is the soundness of the value-judgements themselves, which form the core of that person’s commitment.  

Professor R W Hepburn, University of Edinburgh (Oxford Companion to Philosophy)


High standards

Integrity means having high standards of behaviour and sticking to them, even when it is difficult, or inconveniences yourself, and even when it goes unnoticed or is perhaps unpopular.  

Not lying

Integrity means not lying at someone else’s expense.  In the definition of goodness, this is “selfishness”.  Usually, if you have to lie about something, you shouldn’t be doing it.  

Integrity means not lying about being a good person when you’re not.  

Not kidding yourself

Almost everyone would claim to be a person of integrity, especially people who think they are right about everything and better than everyone else.  If you assume that you are right about everything and are better than everyone else, then you almost certainly lack integrity and are a grave danger to your fellow human beings.

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If you assume that you are right about everything and are better than everyone else, then you almost certainly lack integrity and are a grave danger to your fellow human beings.

Can you support this statement? Grave danger usually means danger of loss of life or limb, and I'm unsure how a lack of integrity could produce this.

In strict terms, integrity comes from the word integer, and indicates a singleness, a wholeness, or an undivided unit. In usage, that could be that a person is acting in harmony with himself (yeah yeah or herself, but I can't be arsed to keep typing and/or statements that are bleedin' obvious).

We all have slightly different impressions of what ethics and morals mean to us. We've debated this here on TA. Consequently, if I adhere precisely to the behaviours that comply with the moral code in my head, I am acting with integrity. It doesn't really matter if you don't agree with my moral code. It only matters that I am not contradicting my version of this code in my acts and deeds.

I believe, however, that you are seeking an external meaning for the word Integrity. You'll probably have around the same success level there, as you would for finding an external definition of morality. Some aspects we will all agree on, like the Golden Rule. Other aspects will become blurred when we move circumstances around.

It took me a moment to realize that first paragraph was a quote from what Simon P said.

I'm not entirely certain I agree with the Golden Rule.  The uncertainty comes from the fact that there are actually two different versions of the Golden Rule, which I'll paraphrase:

Don't do something to someone, that you wouldn't want done to yourself.

Do for others what you would like them to do for you

The first is a negative command, don't do harmful things, which I can agree with.  The second implies you should be their servant, and is closer to the Christian version (Matthew 7:12--interesting that it does not appear in Mark, the earliest gospel).  I reject that emphatically.  I have no such duty (a duty is an obligation imposed on one from outside), period.  I don't mind doing things for friends and for people I value, but to open it up to *everyone* including people like that dingbat in Kentucky?

@Steve. I can't use the quote function with an iPad, so I rarely quote at all.

I'm with you on the first, and I reject the second for the same reasons as you, it seems.

That's good then.  I've had people fail to recognize any difference between the two versions.   I also know most people are thinking of what they saw in a bible (or quoted from one) when they talk about the Golden Rule.  So most of the time, when someone talks about how wonderful the Golden Rule is, I probably disagree with them!  Sometimes, though it's possible that they are really thinking about the "negative" version and not realizing the bible has the "positive" version.

I suspect if most people really thought about it, they'd reject the positive version.  Even those who otherwise lionize Jesus as a moral model.

-- as for the quote function

When I find myself in similar situations (crappy forum software with no easy way to demarcate a quote can cause it even on a full function desktop), I put quote marks around it with a "Simon said" in front of it.  (I would certainly put "Simon said" just for the allusion/comedic value.)  Of course just not quoting often works well too; I'm putting that out as a "plan b" for the rare occasions where you have to make sure your reader is focusing on the same part of a long post that you are.  I use italics when available, too (they probably aren't, to you).

Not demarcating a quote *somehow* can be hazardous.  I remember once, on a totally different forum, not realizing someone's post was a quote of something quite objectionable said by a certain politician, it was his response to a days-old question from someone else, but he hadn't used any sort of quote tag or even quoted the question he was answering, so it looked like he was stating his own position.  I came away from that thinking Scott held that position and when he showed up in chat a couple of days later I started arguing with him...he was totally bewildered, since he and I were in fact in perfect agreement on the subject.  We got it straightened out.  I think he started using quote tags after that (he had them available but was just lazy).

I believe that what the Golden Rule is really about, is putting yourself in someone else's shoes, or putting someone you know or someone you care about in those shoes, because you recognise the predicament of those shoes. 

Does that make sense?  It's all about mentally switching places with someone else.  This can be stated in any number of different ways.  This is what Simon says. 

Something like this: 

It is normal to use it instinctively when dealing with others.  When we are intending to act towards another, we may put ourselves in their place to see what it could feel like if someone acted that way towards us.  We may put someone we love in the other’s place, or just someone we know.  

When we recognize and understand another’s plight, for whatever reason, we may feel moved to treat them in a beneficial way.  

The Golden Rule is made up of empathy and the natural human desire to help others. 

@Steve. Oh bollocks, OK I'll stop being iLazy - I do indeed have the quote button ".

I'd be surprised (but only a little) if Ctrl-b and Ctrl-i didn't turn bold and italics on and off. Works in windows and my android virtual keypad, anyways.

There is no Ctrl on an iPad. My iPad lacks integrity.

@Strega - some good points. 

"Grave danger usually means danger of loss of life or limb,"  - I'll change it to "may be a grave danger to your fellow human beings" because this is both accurate and wide-ranging in my opinion.  Because some c*** didn't have integrity and thought they were perfect, it put me through 25 years of hell and nearly killed me about 15 times, as well as who knows who else. 

"a singleness, a wholeness, or an undivided unit" - I like that analogy.  A soundness and lack of flaws. 

"if I adhere precisely to the behaviours that comply with the moral code in my head, I am acting with integrity. It doesn't really matter if you don't agree with my moral code. It only matters that I am not contradicting my version of this code in my acts and deeds."  - sounds about right. 

"an external meaning for the word Integrity." - I think the meaning of "integrity" is much more easily agreed upon than morality itself. 

I've been thinking.  Instead of people thinking they're perfect, it's necessary for them to question their behaviour to see if they really are behaving in an exemplary moral fashion as they profess.  Otherwise it's easily possible to blindly cause a lot of harm and damage. 

The meaning of the word 'integrity' can be found in any dictionary. However, I think you'll find it will refer to morals and/or ethics, and then, well hello Square One! We meet again!

But I think integrity is an abstract quality or law of morality, distinct from morality itself, whose meaning is well understood.  It is crucially important to morality and has aspects or dimensions that need to be unpacked. 

It's just moral consistency. What is there to be unpacked?

Can a person have bad integrity? Consistently prejudiced, for example? Or is integrity always a virtue?


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