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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L134-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2000
Retrieved April 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The possession (or lack) of integrity is something that all morally serious people care about and think important. In both personal relationships and public life, to describe someone as exhibiting a lack of integrity is to offer a damning diagnosis. It carries the implication that this individual is not to be relied upon, that in some fundamental way they are not someone who we can, or should, view as being wholly or unequivocally there. The foundations of self and character are not sound; the ordering of values is not coherent.

Important as the notion of integrity is, it is nevertheless difficult to characterize with precision. Attempts to analyse it seldom do justice to its complexity, or adequately reflect the diverse concerns that generate and sustain either philosophers’ or non-philosophers’ interest in it. Contemporary interest in the notion of integrity has a number of different, often overlapping, sources. It has been accorded a leading role in the debate between consequentialists and non-consequentialists; revived interest in virtue-ethics has naturally focused attention on it; and its connection with unity or coherence of personality make it central for moral psychology.

As well as occupying a central position in three major topics within academic moral philosophy, integrity has also come to wider prominence in at least two ways: as a virtue increasingly missed in public life; and as a transcultural virtue that reflects a world that has become increasingly morally pluralistic.

The notion of integrity, though complex, elusive, and analytically intractable, is one that goes to the core of our moral thinking, both in theoretical and practical terms.

Citing this article:
Davis, Ann. Integrity, 2000, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L134-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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