The Virtues of Integrity

Moseley, Daniel Dugger, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
Lomasky, Loren, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia

Integrity is the cardinal virtue for moral agents. The moral significance of integrity is often unacknowledged because it is usually considered to be a state such as sincerity, having the courage of your convictions, strength of will or standing up for what you believe. Integrity ought not to be construed in such a subjective manner. Persons may have deeply immoral convictions and if integrity consists in a state such as sincerity or having the courage of your convictions, then it is possible for persons with deeply immoral convictions to have integrity. Officers of the SS may be sincere or stand up for what they believe but they ought not to be credited with integrity. There should be some objective constraints on the content of the convictions that persons of integrity may possess. Someone might reply that the intuitive understanding of integrity as a trait such as sincerity or being true to your convictions ought not to be abandoned: since integrity may be possessed by persons with deeply immoral convictions, integrity should not be construed as a moral virtue or any other kind of virtue. The following chapters present a response to this objection that articulates a series of overlapping arguments that reveal integrity to be a virtue of central importance for moral agents. I argue that there are substantive constraints on the content of the commitments of persons of integrity: persons of integrity may pursue a wide range of projects and endeavors but their commitments cannot be evil. I argue that integrity consists in the virtues of moral commitment and standing up for that commitment and these virtues involve integrating one’s commitments. So, perhaps instead of contending that integrity is a virtue for moral agents, it is more literally accurate to maintain that the virtues of integrity are cardinal virtues for moral agents.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
integrity, virtues, morality
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: