Philosophy 318: Professional Ethics
Theodore Gracyk

Outline of  Calhoun: Standing for Something

Emphasis on VIRTUE (character traits that make one a good person)

  • Personal virtue: involve control over one's own desires/emotions (example: temperance)

  • Social virtue: proper relationships with other persons (example: Charity)

INTEGRITY is both. As a personal virtue, it seems to collapse into self-control. The social aspect emerges when we see that to stand for something is to be prepared to deliberate about it with others, and to defend it in those deliberations.

The central idea is "standing for something." How do you have integrity if you won't stand up for anything? You don't.

We might think that standing up for your values is nothing more than personal autonomy.

It is more: You only have the virtue of integrity if you will defend (in both word and action!) your principles and values.

TEST CASE: Why do we think hypocrisy is wrong? Hypocrites are liars who mislead others: they pretend to endorse a principle or value, but their actions show otherwise. (They may even lie to themselves, showing a lack of integration of belief and action.)

If we think integrity is social, we see that hypocrites are socially disruptive forces, because they encourage others to do things they do not really endorse.

The proper response to one's own failure of integrity is shame.

KEY ARGUMENT: If there is a difference between recognizing moral weakness and recognizing lack of integrity, then integrity must be a social virtue.  THE EVIDENCE: Suppose X says that privacy should be respected, but then reads private letters in secret. For X to think, "That shows how weak I am," X only needs to think of a failure of the private virtue of self-control. It's only when X thinks how it would appear to others, and feels shame, that X has moved to thinking about integrity. 

The social dimension explains why we care if people lack integrity. Social pressures make us conform with group expectations. Social pressures silence people. It can take courage to stand up for your principles. People with integrity are valuable because they force group deliberation of what is valuable and right.



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            Last updated May 20, 2015