one full page only, with 1/3 summary of main argument in the reading, 1/3 introduced and explained quote from the reading that supports the summary, and 1/3 your reaction to the argument. See blackboard for an example of a response paper with the appropriate format and content.
[NAME] Prof. Galusky [DATE OF RESPONSE PAPER]
[Sample] Response Paper for 19 January 2015
[AUTHOR/TITLE OF WORK] Bertrand Russell, “The Value of Philosophy”
Russell’s “The Value of Philosophy” attempts to argue why people should study philosophy,
despite the fact that such study has no obvious practical value (e.g., building a bridge). The
essay first clarifies some misconceptions about philosophy, including the fact that it never
produces useful knowledge. All disciplines find their roots in philosophical inquiry. It also argues
that philosophy aims at knowledge that we can never be certain of, and it is here that philosophy
is to be commended. Philosophy, he argues, makes us expand our minds beyond the chains of
habit and custom, and beyond our tendency to be egoistical, seeing only ourselves in the
universe. Philosophy allows us to overcome these problems and encounter a much wider world.
For example, Russell notes that philosophy, in focusing on the uncertain, “keeps alive our sense
of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect” (3). Russell is suggesting that we
come to see the world in larger ways, in ways that outstrip our habits of mind that render the
world small and uninteresting. Philosophy allows us to confront a world that is bigger than us,
and reminds us of that fact so that we don’t get too arrogant.
Comment: This argument seems to me to have a lot of merit. There seems to be a lot in the
world that we are supposed to be certain about, and not really think about, including whether all
people are equal. And at each point in my life, I’m supposed to make practical decisions about
what I should do. But the basic question of why always seems to be present. What should I do
any of it for? And if certain choices give me pause, or cause me stress, how can I be certain I
will make the right choice? I don’t think I can be certain. And every time I look up at the
universe, and contemplate how vast it is, and how small I am by comparison, I become
despondent about the idea that I will ever be able to have much of any real, full idea about why
the universe exists, and my role within it.
Standing for Something
The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 92, No. 5. (May, 1995), pp. 235-260.
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Wed Apr 4 13:29:13 2007
THE JOURNAL O F PHILOSOPHY
VOLUME XCII, NO.
5, MAY 1995
STANDING FOR SOMETHING*
e admire and trust those who have integrity, take pride in
our own, rue its absence in politics, and regret our own
failures to act with integrity. Clearly, integrity is a virtue,
but it is less clear what it is a virtue of or why we might prize it.
Three pictures of integrity have gained philosophical currency,
particularly through the work of Bernard Williams, Gabriele Taylor,
Lynne McFall, and Jeffrey Blustein.’ I shall call these the integratedself, identity, a n d clean-hands pictures of integrity. O n the
integrated-self view, integrity involves the integration of “parts” of
oneself-desires, evaluations, commitments-into a whole. On the
identity view, integrity means fidelity to those projects and principles
which are constitutive of one’s core identity. On the clean-hands
view, integrity means maintaining the purity of one’s own agency, especially in dirty-hands situations.
I am going to sketch out each of these pictures of integrity and
suggest two general criticisms. First, each ultimately reduces integrity to something else with which it is not equivalent-to the conditions of unified agency, to the conditions for continuing as the
* I would like to thank the members of the Triangle Ethics Group, Chapel Hill,
North Carolina, especially Geoffrey Sayre-McCord and Gerald Postema, as well as
the Duke University faculty and graduate students for helpful comments on an earlier draft.
I Williams, “Persons, Character, and Morality” and “Moral Luck,” both in his
Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers 1973-1980 (New York: Cambridge, 1981), and
“Integrity,” in J. J. C. Smart and Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against (New York:
Cambridge, 1973); Taylor, “Integrity,” in her Pride, Shame, and Guilt: Emotions of
Self-assessment (New York: Oxford, 1985); McFall, “Integrity,” Ethics, XCVIII (1987):
5-20; Blustein, Care and Commitment: Taking the Pmonal Point of View (New York:
Oxford, 1991). Although what I refer to as three pictures of integrity are analytically distinct, these authors work with them as components of a complex account
0 1995 The Journal of Philosophy, Inc.
THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY
same self, and to the conditions for having a reason to refuse cooperating with some evils. Second, all three accounts are of integrity as a
personal, but not also a social virtue. This limits the analysis both of
what integrity is and of why it is a virtue. In the last section, I shall
suggest a way of understanding integrity as a social virtue.
I. THE INTEGRATED-SELFPICTURE OF INTEGRITY
Etymologically, ‘integrity’ is related to integer, a whole number, and
to integration, the unification of parts into a whole. The integratedself picture of integrity begins from this etymological observation,
and the resulting description of the person of integrity as a whole integrated self owes a good deal to Harry Frankfurt’s2 work on freedom and responsibility.
On this view, the integration of the self, and hence integrity, requires first of all that one not be a “wanton.” Frankfurt imagines
wantons to be individuals who either lack the capacity or simply fail
to deliberate and make up their minds about which of their desires
they want to be volitionally effective. As a result, wantons act on
whichever desire happens to be psychologically strongest at the moment. Because the wanton is passive in relation to what moves him,
Frankfurt concludes that the wanton’s desires are, in an important
sense, not his and, as a result, neither are his actions. Such a being
lacks integrity altogether. He does not, in Frankfurt’s view, have a
self, since it is only by endorsing a particular desire that an agent
claims it as his own and thereby constitutes his self.$
Integrity, however, requires a good deal more than simple nonwantonness with respect to one’s first-order desires. First, both
weakness of will and self-deception undermine the individual’s ability to act on her actual or professed endorsements. The weak-willed
person ends up not having “the will he wants, but one that is imposed upon him by a force with which he does not identify and
which is in that sense external to him” (ibid., p. 33). The self-deceived person is unable to see what actually motivates her. She
thinks it is one thing (for instance, cautiousness) when in fact it is
something else (cowardice). As a result, the will she has is not the
one she claims to want. In both cases, what the agent does is not integrated with what she endorses or claims to endorse.
Second, in a variety of ways, wantonness can infect one’s endorsements, that is, one’s second-order desires. Thus, even individuals
“Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,” this JOURNAL, LXVIII, 1
(January 14, 1971): 5-20; and “Identification and Wholeheartedness,” in
Ferdinand Schoeman, ed., Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: N m Essays in
Moral Psychology (New York: Cambridge, 1987).
“Identification and Wholeheartedness,” p. 38.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
who reflect on the sort of person they want to be may fail to do so in
an adequately self-constituting way. As Gabriele Taylor argues, how
one comes to endorse a first-order desire matters. If a person
adopts values only because her group does, without having any reasons of her own for thinking that these are the right values, then her
second-order volitions will not really be her own. “[Slhe has to find
out from others which desires to identify with, or indeed what sorts
of desires she should have” (op cit., p. 116). In addition, as Taylor
also observes, unless the individual regards her endorsements as
prima facie committing her to making the same endorsements on future occasions, she will be no more than shallowly sincere, wholeheartedly identifting with one set of desires today and a different set
tomorrow (op, cit., p. 113). Both the crowd follower and the shallowly sincere exhibit second-order wantonness and a lack of int e g r i t ~ .Such
wantonness appears avoidable, a n d integrity
achievable, only if a person’s endorsements are determined by her
own practical reasoning.
Frankfurt raises a further possibility that reflective individuals may
fail to identify wholeheartedlywith their volitions. They may have inconsistent second-order desires. Or alternatively, they may be ambivalent
about whether or not they want to identify with a particular desire.
Both inconsistency and ambivalence result in there being “no unequivocal answer to the question of what the person really wantsn (op.
kt., p. 33). The individual cannot wholeheartedly say ‘I will’, since
there is n o unified self to back the willing. She lacks integrity.
Wholeheartedness, and with it integrity, would require integrating
competing desires into a single ordering as well as separating some desires from the self and relegating them to “outlawnstatus. “It is these
acts of ordering and of rejection-integration and separation-that
create a self out of the raw materials of inner life” (op. cit., p. 39).
This picture of integrity has intuitive appeal. It captures our sense
that people with integrity decide what they stand for and have their
own settled reasons for taking the stands they do. They are not wantons or crowd followers or shallowly sincere. Nor are they so weak
willed or self-deceived that they cannot act on what they stand for.
The actions of persons of integrity express a clearly defined identity
as an evaluating agent.
One might wonder, however, whether integrity is nothing but a
matter of self-integration. On the integrated-self picture, any perGary Watson raised the problem of wantonness in higher-order volitions in
8 (April 24, 1975): 205-20. Frankfurt addresses
“Free Agency,” this JOURNAL, LXXII,
himself specifically to Watson’s critique.
THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY
son whose actions are fully determined by her own endorsements
has integrity. But consider Thomas E. Hill, Jr.’s5 example of an artist
who lacks self-respect and, it seems, lacks integrity as well:
Suppose a n artist of genius a n d originality paints a masterwork u n a p
preciated by his contemporaries. Cynically, for money a n d social status,
h e alters the painting to please t h e tasteless public a n d then turns out
copies in machine-like fashion. H e does it deliberately, with full awareness of his reasons…(ibid., p. 19).
His pandering to public opinion, silencing his own aesthetic judgments, and selling out his standards for material gain reveal a lack of
integrity. Yet there seems no reason to think that he does not fully
determine his actions. He does, but without integrity. Integrity, one
might intuitively think, involves not subordinating one’s own judgment about what makes art worthy of being produced and appreciated to considerations of personal comfort, gain, status, and
expediency. (In the final section, I shall suggest why this is so.)
One might also wonder if what Frankfurt calls wholeheartednessthe consistency of and nonambivalence about one’s various endorsements-is
really a necessary condition for having integrity.
Wholeheartedness might instead be an ideal of unified agency. That
is, as agents, we might wish we could be wholehearted about what we
do. But being of two minds might not make what we do any less
ours and thus might not pose any special threat to integrity. Because
the notion of wholeheartedness regularly occupies a central place in
philosophical accounts of integrity, it is worth probing whether it
s h o u l d . T a k i n g inconsistency and ambivalence in turn, I shall
sketch out two examples that suggest that integrity may sometimes in
fact require resisting the impulse to resolve inconsistencies and ambivalence.
Inconsistency. Maria Lugones7 has repeatedly argued for the value
of conceptualizing oneself as a duplicitous or multiplicitous being
whose identity is differently constituted in different cultural
“worlds” or meaning systems. The identity “Latina,” for example, is
differently constituted in Hispanic and in racist Anglo cultures.
“‘Self-respect Reconsidered,” in his Autonomy and Self-respect (New York:
T a y l o r , McFall, and Blustein all take wholeheartedness to be central to integrity.
‘ “Playfulness, ‘World’-traveling, and Loving Perception,” Hypatza, 11 (1987):
3-19; “On the Logic of Pluralist Feminism,” in Claudia Card, ed., Feminist Ethics
(Lawrence: Kansas UP, 1991); “Hispaneando y Lesbiando: On Sarah Hoagland’s
Lesbian Ethics,” Hypatia, v (1990): 138- 46.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
Racist oppression consists, in part, in the suppression of the
Hispanic cultural understanding of what it means to be Latina.
And thus for Lugones, struggling against racist oppression consists,
in part, in endorsing and affirming her identity as a Latina as it is
constituted within Hispanic culture. Many people, however, confront multiple oppressions. Lugones, for instance, is both Latina
and lesbian. In struggling against multiple oppressions, she is
faced with the task of not only affirming her Latina identity as it is
constituted within Hispanic culture, but also her lesbian identity as
it is constituted within nonheterosexist lesbian communities. But
the meaning and value systems (for example, concerning gender,
sexuality, and family) that make those two identities possible conflict. Within Hispanic culture, lesbianism is an abomination.
Within the lesbian community, Hispanic values and ways of living
do not have central value. As a result, “Latina lesbian” is not a coherent identity, nor is there a single, unified conceptual and normative perspective which could count as the “Latina lesbian”
perspective and thus n o single perspective from which to take issue
with both racist and heterosexist o p p r e s ~ i o n”I
. ~do not know,” she
writes, “whether the two possibilities can ever be integrated so that
I can become, at least in these respects, a unitary being. I don’t
even know whether that would be desirable. But it seems clear to
me that each possibility need not exclude the other so long as I am
not a unitary but a multiplicitous being.”g
What Lugones’s case illustrates is that lack of wholeheartedness
does not necessarily signal some personal failure on the part of the
agent to make up her mind what she really wants. Agents can have
reason to resist resolving value conflicts. In Lugones’s case, taking a
stand against oppressions-something a person with integrity might
well do-involves endorsing and struggling to preserve meaning and
value systems that conflict with each other. To insist that, even in
The point here is not that one could not construct a unified identity and conceptual-normative perspective. The point is that such a unified identity would be
neither Latina nor lesbian, and endorsing it would be inconsistent with giving priority to combatting racist and heterosexist oppression which consists in part precisely in the suppression of Hispanic and lesbian identities as they are constructed
in their “home” cultures. The point is also not that one cannot be critical of the
identity and culture one endorses, for example, that one cannot be critical of heterosexism in one’s Hispanic community. The point is that the criticism must be internal; it must take place on the background assumption that certain conceptions
and evaluations of gender, sexuality, and family that are constitutive of Hispanic
culture have weight. To engage in external criticism of Hispanic culture (say, from
the point of view of the lesbian community) would be to dismiss the significance of
that culture from the outset.
“‘Hispaneando y Lesbiando,” pp. 138-39.
THE JOURNALOF PHILOSOPHY
these cases, integrity requires wholeheartedness would be to make
practical deliberation over whether a value conflict ought to be resolved oddly irrelevant to integrity.
Ambivalence. A similar point may be made about ambivalence. In
his autobiography, Cures: A Gay Man’s Odyssey, Martin Duberman”
describes his ambivalence about his therapist’s suggestion that they
team teach a seminar at Princeton where Duberman was a history
professor. The therapist, Karl, claims that team teaching will help
cure Duberman’s homosexuality by allowing him to work closely
with a caring male. “Because your father was so distant,” the therapist tells him, “you cannot believe to this day that an adult male
could care about you-and indeed that’s the main reason you pursue males sexually, and especially unavailable males like hustlers: it’s
a way of belatedly trying to get your father’s love while simultaneously confirming that you can’t” (ibid., p. 139). Duberman, however,
suspects that the team-teaching idea has more to do with his therapist’s ego than with therapy. In response to Karl’s suggestion, he
says, “I could feel myself stiffen with distrust. And then, two seconds
later, with self-distrust, as I instantly questioned whether my suspicion about Karl’s motives wasn’t precisely the reflexive skepticism
about an older man’s kindly interest in me that we had just finished
analyzing” (ibid., p. 140). Caught between his own suspicions and
his therapist’s authoritative judgment, Duberman is faced with the
choices of dismissing his therapist’s judgment in favor of his own, or
of acceding to his therapist’s judgment and silencing his suspicions,
or of remaining in a state of ambivalence.
One might think that, as a person with integrity, Duberman
should have stood up for his own suspicions. Indeed, one might
generally think that whenever one’s own and others’ interpretations
of one’s motives conflict, one ought to resolve that conflict in favor
of one’s own judgment. The integrated-self picture of integrity suggests just this conclusion. Feminists have also tended toward this
view.” Recognizing that ambivalence is generally endemic among
members of oppressed groups who suspect that dominant interpretations of their motives and actions are mistaken but for whom there
are as yet no clearly articulated arguments discrediting dominant
views, feminists have regarded such socially produced ambivalence as
New York: Plume, 1992.
See, for example, Sarah Lucia Hoagland’s Lesbian Ethics: Toward New Value
(Palo Alto: Institute of Lesbian Studies, 1988); and Kathryn Morgan’s ‘Women and
Moral Madness,” in Marsha Hanen and Kai Nielsen, eds., Science, Morality, and
Feminist Theory, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supp. Vol. X I I I (Calgary, Alberta:
University Press, 1987).
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
destructive of integrity. For reasons that will become clearer in the
last section, I am unpersuaded that this is so. Anyone who regards
herself as an equal in autonomous judgment to others cannot be indifferent to what others think. When one’s own and others’ judgments come into serious conflict, ambivalence may be a way of
acknowledging that equality. Ambivalence does not necessarily signal a failure on the agent’s part to make up his mind about what he
really believes and wants. Agents can have reason to resist resolving
ambivalence. In particular, they may think it important to acknowledge a basic assumption underlying practical deliberation, namely,
the equality of deliberators.
In sum, the integrated-self picture of integrity, though outlining
some important, necessary conditions of integrity (for example, not
being a mere crowd follower), reduces integrity to volitional unity.
As a result, it obscures the fact that persons can have reason to resist
resolving conflicting commitments and ambivalence about their own
desires, and thus that resisting wholeheartedness may sustain integrity rather than be symptomatic of its absence.I2 In addition, the
integrated-self picture of integrity places no restrictions on the kinds
of reasons that can motivate persons with integrity. But simply acting on one’s own reasons seems insufficient for integrity. Some sorts
of reasons seem incompatible with integrity, for instance, a primary
concern with one’s own comfort, material gain, pleasure, and the
like at the expense of one’s own judgments about what is worth
11. THE IDENTITY PICTURE O F INTEGRITY
A second picture of integrity owes a good deal to Bernard
Williams’sl%ork. On this view, integrity is a matter of having a character and being true to it. To have a character, as Williams sees it, is
to have some ground projects with which one is so strongly identified that in their absence one would not be able to find meaning in
l 2 I think it is important to be skeptical about any account of integrity whose implication is that members of oppressed groups are particularly likely not to have integrity or that, for them, acting with integrity requires acting in morally unsavory
ways (for example, ignoring all but one oppressive system or adopting a dismissive
stance toward social judgments). Lugones’s and Duberman’s cases suggest that
achieving the ideal of an integrated self does not depend solely on an agent’s internal capacities. It also depends on social conditions. The illusion that integration
is entirely up to the individual may reflect a particularly privileged social position-for example, one from which the question of where one stands with respect
to multiple and conflicting oppressions does not regularly come up and within
which one’s own self-interpretation receives substantial social confirmation.
l 3 See especially Williams, “Persons, Character, and Morality” (hereafter PCM),
“Moral Luck,” and “Integrity.”
THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY
one’s life or have a reason for going on. Because both Kantianism
and utilitarianism require that agents be prepared to give up their
ground projects in the name of impartial good ordering or the maximization of good states of affairs, both moral systems are, in his view,
hostile to agents’ integrity.
Picturing integrity as fidelity to projects with which the individual
deeply identifies has intuitive appeal. It captures, in a way that the
integrated-self picture did not, the idea that persons with integrity
stand for something. On the integrated-self picture, a person
“stands fornall of the desires that she does not regard as alien or outlaw forces, no matter how trivial those desires might be. Thus, implausibly, one’s integrity is implicated in everything one does. The
identity picture, by contrast, discriminates between desires that are
basic to one’s sense of self and those which are not. A person with
integrity stands for those desires which are constitutive of her core
self. This explains why such persons might prefer death to the betrayal of what they stand for.
Although Williams was explicitly concerned with integrity, his discussions of integrity all occur within the context of formulating o b
jections to Kantian impartiality and the utilitarian conception of
negative responsibility. He was, in particular, concerned with securing a space for individuals’ partiality to their personal, identity-constituting projects against the seemingly relentless demands of
morality. A central part of his argument was that individuals will not
have a reason to care about their own future, including their future
in a morality system, unless they have some ground projects whose
pursuit propels them into the future (PCM, especially p. 14). Even if
Williams was right to insist that Kantian and utilitarian morality demand too much of agents, one can still question whether integrity
really is, and is nothing but, being true to what one deeply identifies
Identity urithout integrity. Those who endorse the identity picture of
integrity admit that, on this view, one might have integrity even
though one’s identity-conferring projects are nonmoral or even
morally despicable. This is because deeply identifying with what one
does, puts one’s integrity beyond question. The Gauguin portrayed
by Williams, for example, stakes his deepest sense of self on his desire to realize his painterly gifts. Gauguin
is not pictured as thinking that he will have earned his place in the
world, if his project is affirmed: that a distinctive contribution to the
world will have been made, if his distinctive project is carried forward.
The point is that he wants these things, finds his life bound up with
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
them, and that they propel him forward, and thus they give him a reason for living his life (PCM, pp. 1415).
Although taking his moral obligations seriously, this Gauguin does
not regard them as identity-conferring in the deepest sense.
Morality, for him, is not a ground project. Thus, when moral obligation conflicts with his deep identity as a painter, preserving his integrity requires that he betray his moral commitments.
Agreeing that integrity can take nonmoral forms, must we agree
that Gauguin acts with integrity just because he so deeply identifies
with painting? This, I think, depends on what we mean by “identity”
and “identification.” It is possible, first, to understand identity as a
psychological phenomenon. From a psychological point of view, we
might understand who we are in terms of our deepest impulses and
what feels natural or unforced. Identifying with a desire would not,
in this case, entail that the agent also endorses the desire with which
she identifies. If we have any reason to doubt Gauguin’s integrity, it
is because we suspect that identifying with a project may differ from
endorsing it and that Gauguin’s reason for pursuing his painterly
project is his identification with it, not his endorsement. To clarify
this distinction between psychological identification and endorsement, I draw once again on an example from Duberman’s Cures.
During his two-decade long pursuit of a psychotherapeutic cure
for his homosexuality, Duberman accepted the then dominant view
of homosexuality as a neurotic and pathological barrier to a loving,
committed relationship. Making what was called a “heterosexual adjustment” was, he thought, his only hope for a healthy, happy life.
Repeatedly entering therapy for a cure, he just as repeatedly quit,
being both unwilling to follow his therapists’ injunction to stop “acting out” his homosexuality and convinced that he could not change.
H e vacillated between terminating relationships for enforced
celibacy and arranging his life to accommodate frequent trips to
New Yoi-k gay bars.
His refusal to endorse his desire for men seems clear from the narrative. He says: “Accepting it [namely, the decision to quit therapy]
means accepting my life, being satisfied with it. And I can’t …” (op.
cit., p. 36). But it seemed equally clear both to himself and his aggravated therapists that he did not identify with the therapeutic goals
that he endorsed. He was, in his words, an “onlooker, an auditor,
rather than a participant” in the therapeutic process (op. cit.).
Cases like Duberman’s, where identification and endorsement
part company, force us to get clearer about what we mean by a
“ground project,” or “identity-conferring commitment.” If such de-
THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY
sires and commitments are simply ones that are connected to the individual’s deepest psychological impulses, then they would not necessarily be endorsed. One simply does, as a matter of psychological
fact, care deeply about a particular project. Williams sometimes
speaks this way. In his words, a person who has a ground project
simply “finds his life bound up with it.” Understood this way, there is
no reason to suppose that what one identifies with is necessarily also
what one endorses and what makes one’s life meaningful and worth
living. Thus, there is n o reason to suppose that losing such
identity-conferring projects necessarily poses any special threat to
integrity. In trying to cure himself of “what he found his life bound
up with,” Duberman assumed that he was acting with integrity, not
undermining his integrity. And insofar as we imagine that Gauguin,
in pursuing “what he found his life bound up with,” acted merely on
a psychologically deep impulse without critically reflecting on the
value of doing so, we may suspect him of not acting with integrity.
In short, integrity involves fidelity to one’s endorsements, not to
merely psychologically deep identifications. Although it may happily
be true of many of us that we want to be who we are-that endorsement and psychological identification coincide-this is not inevitable. One may deeply identify oneself with some nonendorsed
desires, and living up to one’s endorsements can exact a terrible toll
on psychological identity. When endorsement and identification
conflict, the price of trying to become a self we take to be better is
not our integrity.
Integrity beyond identity-confem’ng commitments. One might try to
preserve the basic idea that integrity is connected to identity and fidelity to self by shifting to a deliberative notion of identity. From a
deliberative point of view, we might understand who we are in terms
of our considered judgments about what is of value, what principles
ought to be endorsed, and how they should be hierarchically
ranked.14 Thinking of identity this latter way, Taylor observes that
l4 One might think that Williams meant to connect ground projects to this deliberative notion of identity and to an agent’s deepest endorsements. But understood
this way, there is no reason to suppose that ground projects could conflict with the
agent’s own view of what morality demands. If Gauguin endorses painting as his
ground project-that is, as what has evaluative priority-then he has already answered for himself the question of what morality demands. It does not, in his view,
demand eliminating a space for partiality to one’s own projects. Gauguin’s endorsement of his painterly project, reflecting as it does an antecedent rejection of
utilitarian value maximization and Kantian impartiality, cannot then be offered,
without begging the question, as a reason for thinking that utilitarianism and
Kantianism are mistaken. Nor can it be offered as a reason for thinking that either
morality system poses a threat to the agent’s integrity.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
some of a person’s evaluations concern trivial matters and “do not
contribute to her identity” (@. cit., p. 131). Those which do contribute to identity are more properly described as identity-conferring commitments. Such commitments, in Lynne McFall’s words,
“reflect what we take to be most important and so determine, to a
large extent, our (moral) identitiesn as well as what we can do and
survive as the persons we are (@. cit., p. 13).
This idea that integrity requires fidelity to our core values sounds
right. But one might question whether integrity is just a matter of
being true to (and un-self-deceived about) identity-conferring
commitments. If integrity just is a matter of standing on principles
or values that are central to one’s identity, it would follow that betraying or being self-deceived about principles or values that are
more peripheral to one’s sense of self would not cost a person her
integrity. This is precisely the conclusion Jeffrey Blustein draws. He
Not every instance of weakness of will, of acting contrary to one’s better
judgment, a n d n o t even repeated akratic failure, necessarily indicates a
lack of integrity. T h e r e must b e a deficiency in self-control with respect t o commitments o r principles that have some bearing o n t h e
agent’s b r o a d conception of his o r h e r life’s direction o r sense of
self-identity (op n’t., p. 100).
He draws a parallel conclusion about self-deception (op. cit., p.
106). It would seem, then, that on matters that are not strongly connected to one’s sense of self-identity, one cannot act without integrity. But this does not seem right. We recognize persons with
integrity not only by their willingness to incur great losses for the
sake of what they hold most dear, but also by their conscientiousness
in smaller matters having no strong bearing on “the agent’s broad
conception of his or her life’s direction.” We expect persons of integrity not only to stand up for their most deeply held and highly endorsed commitments, but to treat all of their endorsements as ones
worthy of being held by a reflective agent.I5
l5 What does seem right about Blustein’s position is that some self-deception
and weakness of will is compatible with an “all things considered” assessment of a
person’s character. In answering the question-‘Is this the kind of person that, all
things considered, we would describe as having integrity?’-it is most relevant to
look at how a person stands with respect to her core commitments. A person
might be pervasively weak willed with respect to very low-order principles or to the
application of core principles in fairly trivial cases, but she might exhibit great
strength of will and courage in sticking to her convictions when core principles or
more serious cases are at stake. If so, we might well be prepared to say that, all
things considered, she has integrity. It does not follow, however, from the fact that
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In sum, the identity picture of integrity equates the conditions
under which we can go on as the same self with the conditions for integrity. But acting on the deep impulses that define our psychological sense of self seems to have little to do with integrity given that
agents may repudiate their deepest impulses. Acting on those
deeply held and highly endorsed commitments that define our sense
of self, though constituting part of what it means to act with integrity, does not appear to constitute the whole of it.
111. THE CLEAN-HANDS PICTURE OF INTEGRITY
Running throughout both pictures of integrity presented so far is
the thought that integrity is importantly connected to an agent’s endorsements. The clean-hands picture offers a different take on this
same theme. On this picture, integrity is a matter of endorsing and,
should the occasion arise, standing on some bottom-line principles
that define what the agent is willing to have done through her
agency and thus the limits beyond which she will not cooperate with
evil. A person has integrity when there are some things she will not
do regardless of the consequences of this refusal. In bottom-line
situations, she places the importance of principle and the purity of
her own agency above consequentialist concerns.
Williams has also been a key advocate of this conception of integrity, although philosophical discussions of dirty hands and choosing the lesser of two evils generally square standing on principle and
integrity off against compromising with evil to secure a better outcome. Like the other pictures of integrity, this one, too, has intuitive
appeal. It captures, in a way the identity picture does not, the kind
of thinking we expect behind principled refusals-not, “I couldn’t
go on as the same person if I did this,” but “I would be doing a
wrong.” It also captures better than the identity picture what it
means to stand for something. Standing for something is not just a
matter of personal identificationwith certain values; it is also a matter
of insisting on the endorsability of those values.
Like the other two pictures of integrity, this one, too, emerges
within a larger philosophical context. Williams was interested in
challenging what he took to be two tenets of utilitarianism: (1) we
are just as responsible for preventing others from doing evil as we
a person lacks integrity, all things considered, only if she is weak willed or self-deceptive about “basic goals and concerns” that a person acts without integrity only if
she acts contrary to her basic goals and concerns. People can act without integrity-or courage, strength of will, temperance, kindness, etc.-on particular
occasions while still being, all things considered, persons who have integrity, or who
are courageous, strong willed, temperate, kind, etc.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
are for refraining from evil ourselves; thus, agents must be prepared
to dirty their hands and perform morally repugnant deeds if doing
so will prevent others from committing even worse deeds; and (2) so
long as we maximize beneficial outcomes we have no reason to feel
regret, guilt, shame, and the like, no matter what we have had to do
Both tenets, in Williams’s view, are
in order to maximize out~omes.’~
incompatible with agents’ maintaining a sense of their own moral integrity. To have integrity is to view some actions as morally disagreeable apart from their consequences and to reflect that view in one’s
actions and sentiments. Thus, persons with integrity will sometimes
refuse to maximize good consequences when this means doing
something morally disagreeable. They will also regret doing morally
disagreeable acts on those occasions when circumstances require
doing a lesser evil in order to prevent a greater one.
I want to come at the criticism of the clean-hands picture of integrity via a more indirect route than I took with the preceding pictures. Specifically, I want to begin by examining this thought that
some moral theories are more hospitable to acting with integrity
than others. At one end of the spectrum of moral theories is strict
consequentialism. Here, standing on principle when one could instead make the best of a bad situation would never be justified; and
so, the reasoning goes, consequentialism accords integrity little or
no moral value. On the other end of the spectrum is utopian deontology where being morally justified hinges on acting on those principles which would be acceptable in an ideal moral world. Here,
standing on principle is ak rigeur no matter how dreadful the consequences of doing so. (Recall, for example, Kant’s insistence on dealing truthfully with the murderer at one’s door.) Thus, one would
always be justified in refusing, on principle, to cooperate with evil;
and so, the reasoning goes, utopian deontology makes integrity a
supreme value. In the middle are various moderate positions that
accord both principles and consequences justifying weight. A moderate position might sometimes require cooperating with evil and
sometimes require standing on principle, depending on what the
lesser evil is.” Alternatively, or in addition, a moderate view might
regard standing on principle as a permissible but not required option.I8 Moderate moral theories, it might be thought, place some
l 7 Terrance C. McConnell works out such a moderate position in “Moral
Blackmail,” Ethics, XCI (1981): 544-67.
Hill argues for this on Kantian grounds in “Moral Purity and the Lesser Evil,”
in his Autonomy and Self- respect.
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but not supreme value on acting with integrity. Thus, they sometimes recommend acting with integrity and sometimes recommend
compromising one’s integrity.
Because some of the more striking examples of acting with integrity involve refusing to compromise one’s principles, it is indeed
tempting to think that advocating a particular theory of moral justification entails placing a higher or lower value on acting with integrity, depending on how much justificatory weight is placed on
deontological principles versus consequences. But that temptation
should be resisted. It does not follow from the fact that persons of
integrity “act on principle” and the fact that deontological theories
recommend “acting on principle” that deontological theories are integrity-friendly theories. consideration of the preceding two pictures of integrity has suggested that acting with integrity involves
acting on one’s own principles. When a theory of justification recommends “acting on principle,” however, it is not recommending that
people act on their own principles. It is recommending that people
act on the right principles. Thus, a deontological theory may sanction acting on principle without sanctioning the agent’s acting on her
own principles, that is, without sanctioning her acting with integrity.
In short, a theory of moral justification places value on having good
reasons for action. If it also places value on acting on principle, it
does so only insofar as the principle supplies a good reason. By contrast, to value integrity is to place value on an agent’s acting from her
reasons, whether they are good ones or n o t . ‘ T h i s means that no
theory of moral justification is inherently hospitable to integrity.
Both deontology and utilitarianism may recommend courses of action that conflict with the agent’s own principles. Both deontology
and utilitarianism only contingently sanction acting with integrity.
That sanction depends on the agent’s first endorsing the moral theory, thereby making theoretically good reasons also the agent’s own
Now, even if one gives up the idea that utilitarianism is uniquely
unfriendly to integrity, one might still think there is something to
the clean-hands picture of integrity. Integrity, one might think, requires having at least some nonconsequentialist principles to stand
‘% person can be absolutely mistaken about which principles one may justifiably
stand on yet act with integrity in taking the stand. When Dan Quayle stood on his
pro-life principle, refusing to sanction an abortion for his own young daughter
and even for a twelve-year old raped by her father, one might have thought him
hopelessly misguided; but that thought alone would not have been reason to think
he lacked integrity. (If one suspected him of lacking integrity, it was because it is
hard to imagine he really believed what he said.)
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
on, even if they are the wrong ones, and thus reason sometimes to
regret cooperating with evil. The consequentialist has no such principles. There is nothing she would not do to optimize consequences. Thus, even if she is justified in repeatedly dirtying her
hands to fix a bad world, she cannot claim to have integrity. But this
seems wrong. Although there is nothing she would not do to optimize consequences, there are things the utilitarian would not do,
namely, nonoptimific acts. On the old Star Trek series, for instance,
Mr. Spock was portrayed as a die-hard consequentialist on
life-and-death issues, always ready to sacrifice the few for the many;
and he was also portrayed as a person of impeccable integrity, willing
to be one of the sacrificed few and unwilling to compromise his utilitarian principle in the face of his crewmates’ insistence on the
wrongness both of letting the numbers count and of cooperating
In sum, given that a person believes an act is wrong apart from its
consequences, having integrity may indeed require that she not do it
or at least regret doing it. But integrity does not require believing
that there are such consequence-independent wrongs.20 The only
necessary condition of moral integrity is that one do what one takes
oneself to have most moral reason to do. For consequentialists, that
will mean cooperating with evil. For nonconsequentialists, it will
mean not cooperating or regretfully cooperating with evil.
Selling out. Underlying the clean-hands picture of integrity, I suspect, are often the ideas that (1) there is a right course to take when
presented with the choice between two evils, or the option of compromising with opponents, or the choice between protesting and remaining silent about injustice; (2) rightness is not fully determined
by consequences; and (3) having integrity just is a matter of taking
the right c o u r ~ e . ~Thus,
the person without integrity is the one who
20 This is not to say that the thought that a person is morally mistaken has no
bearing on the question of his integrity. Sometimes it is hard to imagine how someone could care about what principles they act on, be un-self-deceived, sincere,
critically reflective, nonhypocritical, concerned with more than their own comfort,
and get things morally so wrong.
This would have to be Williams’s view if utilitarianism is going to be singled out
as the enemy of integrity. From a deontological point of view, utilitarianism requires agents to do the wrong thing. Thus, if having integrity is equivalent to
doing the right thing, utilitarianism will (again, from a deontological point of
view) require that agents act without integrity. What Williams could have been
pointing to was the fact that utilitarianism makes external demands on agents. If
integrity is a matter not of doing the right thing but of acting on one’s own (internal) views, then utilitarianism would again be an enemy of integrity. But in this
case, deontology would have to be depicted as equally inimical to integrity, since it,
too, makes external demands on the agent.
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cooperates with evil or compromises with opponents when she ought
not, or who fails to protest when she should. There is something to
this last statement, though not what the equation between getting it
right and having integrity suggests. I have argued that integrity
hinges on acting on one’s own views, not the right views (as those
might be determined independently of the agent’s own opinion). If
people without integrity do indeed cooperate, compromise, and remain silent when they ought not, the force of ‘ought not’ cannot be
“the wrong thing as determined by some (deontological) moral theory.” Rather, people without integrity violate their own views. They
cooperate with evil, compromise with opponents, and remain silent
when their own principles and values tell them they ought not.
If this is so, how does lacking integrity differ from weakness of
will? Surely, not all weak-willed failures to act on one’s own best
judgment signal lack of integrity. Breaking a diet privately embarked on because one is lazy, or craving sugar, or just plain hungry
is weak willed, but not necessarily a cost to integrity, especially if the
person reproaches himself for his weakness. Self-reproach is exactly
what one expects of the person of integrity who lets himself down.
To lack integrity, I suggest, is to underrate both formulating and
exemplifying one’s own views. People without integrity trade action
on their own views too cheaply for gain, status, reward, approval, or
for escape from penalties, loss of status, disapproval (as did the artist
who cynically altered his work for gain). Or they trade their own
views too readily for the views of others who are more authoritative,
more in step with public opinion, less demanding of themselves, and
so on.22The person who allows himself to be cajoled, bullied, bribed,
or embarrassed into breaking a diet he endorses, or who rationalizes
his failure with the thought that most people have lower standards of
fitness that would not have required dieting in the first place, is a
prime example of a person without integrity. Integrity becomes an
issue-something that one risks losing and must act to preserveparticularly in contexts where there is some incentive to act on someone else’s best judgment. Williams’s well-known example of George
illustrates the point.23
22 In thinking about integrity in terms of the value a person places on her own
views, I have been influenced by Hill’s analysis of self-respect as, in part, a matter
of being unwilling to trade one’s own rights cheaply-“Senility and Self-respect”
in his Autonomy and Self-respect. I read his “Self-respect Reconsidered” as in fact a
discussion of integrity, since the issue there is not the value a person attaches to
her own rights, but the value she attaches to having and acting on views of her
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
George, an opponent of chemical and biological warfare, is offered a chemical-biological warfare research job by a utilitarian who
urges George to take it, thereby preventing a more zealous researcher from doing so. George thinks that he should refuse on
principle to participate in this research, regardless of the consequences. As Williams constructs the case, utilitarianism makes an external demand on agents to abandon their conviction that some acts
are wrong apart from their consequences. But any morality system,
utilitarian or not, if personified and figured as a kind of stern, moralistic father who demands one’s compliance with a view not one’s
own, will pose a threat to integrity. Agents may give in to the demand, abandoning their own judgment, and acting without integrity. As Blustein correctly points out, “this has nothing
particularly to do with the content of the demand that the utilitarian
is making of this person” (op. cit., p. 70). It has everything to do with
abandoning one’s own judgment for another’s. The more authoritative or more coercive the external demand that one do x rather than
the y one thinks one ought to do, the more intense the integrity
question becomes, namely, the question of whether one will act on
one’s own or an external judgment.
Also central to the case is the fact that others will have strong and
reasonable grounds for reproaching George if he refuses the job.
Both the utilitarian employer and pragmatically-minded opponents
of chemical- biological warfare will think he has done the wrong
thing. His wife, too, may reproach him for taking a principled
stance that does not give concern for her welfare high priority. To
all of these reproaches, he will have little to offer but the thought, “I
did what I thought right.” The greater the risk of being held to account-reproached, condemned, and penalized-by others for acting on one’s own judgment, the more central becomes the question
of whose judgment to make one’s guide. That is, one’s integrity becomes the issue.
Finally, central to the case is the tension between what the world
as it is presently structured may require and what an ideal world
would require. In an ideal world, some things ought never to happen and some acts no one should ever be called upon to do. In
George’s view, chemical and biological weapons have no place in an
ideal world, and no one should ever be called upon, as he is now, to
advance their development in order to prevent a greater evil. One
does not have to be a deontologist to appreciate that fact. The more
deeply entrenched the views, and the more pervasive the actions,
which produce a nonideal world, the more intense the integrity
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question becomes-namely, the question of whether to accede to
others’ construction of the world by acting as best one can in present
circumstances or to act on one’s own judgment that the world is a
bad one and calls upon people to do what no one should be called
upon to do.24
In sum, in contrasting acting on principle to maximizing outcomes, the clean-hands picture of integrity mislocates the heart of
integrity questions. It is not consequentialism that threatens integrity, but our own vulnerability to other people-their bribes and
threats, authoritative demands, reproach and accusations of unreasonableness, their lower standards that make it easy to get away with
violating our own, and their collective construction of a world that
calls upon us to act against our ideals. We find ourselves tempted to
give in, accede, pander, bow, and stoop to views we do not endorse,
and to sell out, abandon, recant, conceal, and compromise too readily those we do.
IV. PERSONAL AND SOCIAL VIRTUES
I have argued that each of the three pictures of integrity reduces integrity to something else: to the conditions for unified agency, to the
conditions for continuing as the same self, and to the conditions for
having a reason to refuse cooperating with some evils. Although persons with integrity will sometimes stand up for what they wholeheartedly e n d o r s e , o r for what is central to their identity, or for
deontological principles, integrity is not equivalent to doing these
things. Continuing to be of two minds, conscientiousness about
small matters and dirtying one’s hands can also be matters of integrity.
I said at the beginning that I thought there was a second problem
with the three pictures of integrity, namely, that they proceed on the
assumption that integrity is a personal virtue, and this assumption
wrongly limits what can be said about both the nature and value of
integrity. It is to that second critique that I now turn.
Some virtues are personal, others are social, yet others are both.
A personal virtue, like temperance, consists in having the proper relation to oneself-in this case, to one’s desires. Social virtues consist
in having the proper relation to others. Civility, for instance, is a social virtue, a desirable mode of conducting oneself among others.
‘4 That we have two integrity concerns-acting
on our best judgment given the
world as it is and acting on our best judgment of what we ought never to be called
upon to do-suggests that worlds can be sufficiently bad such that acting with
complete integrity is hopeless. In making her choice, Sophie confronted just such
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
Some virtues are both personal and social. Self-respect, for instance, might be thought to involve having both a proper regard for
one’s own moral status (and thus the right relation to oneself) and
a proper regard for one’s place among other moral beings (and
thus the right relation to others); it is a virtue exercised both by
holding oneself to standards and by demanding rightful treatment
On the integrated-self, identity, and clean-hands pictures, integrity characterizes an agent’s relation to herself-to her desires
(they are wholeheartedly endorsed or else outlawed), to her character (she cultivates and protects its depth), and to her agency (she
takes special responsibility for what gets done through it and governs
herself by at least some deontological principles). Given this understanding of integrity as a personal virtue, guarding one’s integrity
must be largely self-protective. It is for the sake of my autonomy, my
character, my agency that I stand by my best judgment. Or alternatively put, it is for the sake of some specially valued feature of selves,
of which I am one, that I stand by my best judgment.
Characterizing integrity as a purely personal virtue does not imply
that there is anything self-indulgent about striving to have integrity.
But it does imply that integrity is not essentially connected to how we
conduct ourselves among others and that its fitting us for proper social relations is not what makes it a virtue. Is there any reason to
think that integrity is less like temperance, a purely personal virtue,
and more like self-respect, a personal and social virtue? Taking the
notion of “standing for something” and the self-indulgence criticism of integrity in turn, I want to suggest two reasons for not confining the analysis of integrity to understanding its nature as a personal
virtue. First, doing so fails to provide us with an adequate explication of what it means to stand for something. Second, although such
analyses can counter the self-indulgence charge, they cannot make
the person of integrity’s relation to other persons central to that defense.
Standing for. I take it that the notion of standing for something is
central to the meaning of integrity. Indeed, part of the intuitive appeal of the integrated-self, identity, and clean-hands pictures lay in
their articulating part of what is meant by standing for something.
When, however, the analysis of integrity is confined to understanding it as a personal virtue, “standing for” something ultimately re-
2’ In “Servility and Self-respect” and “Self-respect Reconsidered,” Hill explores
both the personal and social dimensions of self-respect.
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duces to “standing by” the line that demarcates self from not-self.
On the integrated-self, identity, and clean-hands pictures, the adoption of principles and values as one’s own establishes the line between self and not-self. Acting with integrity, that is, on one’s own
judgment, is thus intimately tied to protecting the boundaries of the
self-to protecting it against disintegration, against loss of self-identity, and against pollution by evil. Acting without integrity undermines the boundaries of the self, whether that be accomplished
through the abandonment of one’s autonomy, the betrayal of one’s
deepest commitments, or the contamination of one’s agency
through association with evil. On all three views, loss of integrity signals loss of some important dimension of selfhood.
To the extent that integrity is, indeed, a personal virtue, this account of the significance of standing by one’s principles and values
rings true. What drops out of these accounts, however, is the centrality of standing for principles and values that, in one’s own best
judgment, are worthy of defense because they concern how we, as beings interested in living justly and well, can do so. When President
Clinton capitulated to the joint chiefs of staff and members of
Congress, such as Sam Nunn, over the military ban on gays and lesbians, he was criticized, particularly by the gay and lesbian community, for lacking integrity. The force of that charge was not that he
had failed to sustain (or had misrepresented) the boundaries of his
self. The force of the charge was that he had treated as a matter of
little significance the representation and defense of views that in
one’s own best judgment are the better ones. He did so either by
misrepresenting his own view of the ban in the first place or by too
readily conceding to a view he considered wrong. This, in the eyes
of his critics, constituted less a self-betrayal than a betrayal of those
counting on him to stand up for what they took to be the better
view. Moreover, not standing up for one’s best judgment about what
would be just or what lives are acceptable forms of the good suggests
that it does not really matter what we as a community of reasoners
endorse. The person of integrity, one might plausibly think, is precisely the person who thinks this does matter. Integrity here seems
tightly connected to viewing oneself as a member of an evaluating
community and to caring about what that community endorses.
That is, it seems to be a social virtue.
Self-indulgence. The depiction of integrity as a personal virtue
aimed at securing the boundaries of the self tends to provoke
charges of self-indulgence. This self-indulgence charge can, I
think, be countered. Even so, a further question remains as to
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
whether accounts of integrity as a personal virtue enable us to say all
the things we want to say about what makes integrity a virtue.
The self-indulgence critique goes something like this: advocates
of integrity seem to place evaluative weight on the fact that a view is
one’s own. This looks self-indulgent. The identity picture of integrity
is especially prone to this criticism. On one version of the identity
picture, the core principles of one’s deliberative viewpoint are core
principles not because one thinks them worthy of endorsement but
simply because one so thoroughly identifies with them. But all three
pictures, because they value standing on one’s own views, are vulnerable to charges of egoism and self-indulgence.
The proper line of defense to this charge is to point out that value
is being attached not to the “ownness” of a view, but to something
else of which formulating and acting on one’s own views is an integral part. Briefly reconstructing how such arguments would go, one
might say the following.
The integrated-self picture of integrity attaches value to autonomy. The project of becoming a person with integrity just is the project of becoming a fully autonomous person whose actions are
determined by her self rather than by desires and values that are not
truly her own. Having and acting on views of one’s own is thus valuable not because of the sheer fact that they are one’s own but because having and acting on views of one’s own is integral to being an
autonomous, free, and responsible being, which itself is valuable.
What the identity picture of integrity attaches value to is somewhat
harder to specify. The thought might be that the depth of character
that comes with deep commitments is an admirable characteristic of
persons. Or the thought might be that deep attachments are part of
any life that could count for us as a good, full, and flourishing
human life. Or the thought might be that only a life containing
deep attachments will be rich enough to compel our continuing interest in staying around and participating in morality. Having and
acting on identity-conferring commitments is thus valuable, not because of the sheer fact that they are one’s own, but because having
and acting on deep commitments is part of any admirable, flourishing life worth living, and that kind of life is what has value.
What the clean-hands picture of integrity attaches value to is again
not easy to specify. One thought might be that special value attaches
to taking responsibility for one’s own conduct. In a quite different
vein, one might claim that value attaches to adopting a deontological rather than consequentialist perspective, and thus to acting on
principle itself. In either case, that the principles happen to be
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one’s own is incidental and inevitable given that deliberation about
which principles are endorsable will have to be conducted from
within one’s own deliberative viewpoint.
Although I shall not attempt to do so here, I think all three views
of what makes integrity a virtue might be articulated in either
Kan tian or utilitarian terms.26
Yet even if the integrated-self, identity, and clean-hands views succeed in accounting for the virtue of integrity, one might still criticize
them for excluding some important considerations from their account. Some Kantian and utilitarian arguments for the value of integrity will be ruled out as arguments also for the virtue of integrity.27
In On Liberty, for instance, J. S. Mill argued that the unrestricted representation and exchange of ideas was critical to the discovery of truth.
But the discovery of truth would seem to depend not just on the freedom to speak, but also on the integrity of the speakers, that is, on their
commitment to publicly standing for their own best judgment of what
the truth is. Kantians, too, might see some value in standing before
others on one’s own best judgment. From a Kantian point of view,
persons are not just autonomous agents with special responsibility for
their own conduct. They are also members of a community of co-legislators. The embodiment of this co-legislative aspect of persons
would seem to require agent integrity, that is, a commitment to standing before others on one’s best judgment, submitting it to their critique, and defending its fitness for co-legislation. From the
standpoint of the integrated-self, identity, and clean-hands pictures of
integrity, however, these considerations only provide additional reasons for valuing integrity, not for thinking it a virtue. For the latter to
be true, we would have had to start from an account of integrity as a social virtue. That is, we would have had to start from the thought that
acting on one’s own best judgment is integral to some common project (such as the search for truth or co-legislatable principles) or to a
way of comporting ourselves among others. Only if we assume that integrity is not, or notjust, a matter of the individual’s proper relation to
herself, but a matter of her proper relation to common projects and
I owe this thought to Geoffrey Sayre-McCord.
TO show that a trait is a virtue is to show that something about the trait itself is
intrinsically valuable. For instance, on the integrated-self picture, autonomy is
both central to the trait we call “integrity” and has intrinsic value. Thus, integrity is
a virtue. Traits can also have extrinsic value. For instance, one might think that,
even though integrity is not to be defined as a trait that fits us for membership in a
truth-seeking or moral community, this is one welcome effect of integrity. If so, its
fitting us for community membership provides us with an additional reason for
valuing integrity, though not an additional reason for thinking it a virtue.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
to the fellows with whom one engages in those common projects,
would the utilitarian and Kantian considerations just mentioned count
as articulating what makes integrity a virtue.
Contrary to the integrated-self, identity, and clean-hands pictures
of integrity, I am strongly inclined to think that integrity is a social
trait and that its fitting us for community membership is precisely
what makes it a social virtue. Looking at integrity as a social virtue
enables us to see persons of integrity as insisting that it is in some important sense for us, for the sake of what ought to be our project or
character as a people, to preserve what ought to be the purity of our
agency that they stick by their best judgment. It is to a picture of integrity as a social virtue that I now turn.
V. STANDING FOR SOMETHING
What then is the social virtue of integrity? I begin with this picture: I
am one person among many persons, and we are all in the same
boat. None of us can answer the question-‘What is worth
doing?’-except from within our own deliberative points of view.
This ‘What is worth doing?’ question can take many specific forms.
What evils, if any, ought one morally to refuse doing no matter the
consequences? What, for philosophers, is worth writing about?
What is worth keeping, what worth reforming in the social identity
“Black” or “woman” or “gay”? What principles take precedence over
what others? What is one, if not the only, worthwhile way of conducting a good life? That they are answerable only from within each
person’s deliberative viewpoint means that all of our answers will
have a peculiar character. As one among many deliberators, each
can offer only her own judgment. Although each aims to do more
than this-to render a judgment endorsable by all-nothing guarantees success. The thought, “It is just my judgment and it may be
wrong,” cannot be banished no matter how carefully deliberation
proceeds. But given that the only way of answering the ‘What is
worth doing?’ question is to plunge ahead using one’s own deliberate viewpoint, one’s best judgment becomes important. As one
among many deliberators who may themselves go astray, the individual’s judgment acquires gravity. It is, after all, not just her judgment
about what it would be wrong or not worthwhile to do. It is also her
best judgment. Something now hangs for all of us, as co-deliberators trying to answer correctly the ‘What is worth doing?’ question,
on her sticking by her best judgment. Her standing for something is
not just something she does for herself. She takes a stand for, and
before, all deliberators who share the goal of determining what is
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To have integrity is to understand that one’s own judgment matters because it is only within individual persons’ deliberative viewpoints, including one’s own, that what is worth our doing can be
decided. Thus, one’s own judgment serves a common interest of
co-deliberators. Persons of integrity treat their own endorsements
as ones that matter, or ought to matter, to fellow deliberators.
Absent a special sort of story, lying about one’s views, concealing
them, recanting them under pressure, selling them out for rewards
or to avoid penalties, and pandering to what one regards as the bad
views of others, all indicate a failure to regard one’s own judgment as
one that should matter to others. The artist who alters his work of
genius, making it saleable to a tasteless public, lacks integrity because he does not regard his best aesthetic judgment as important to
anyone but himself. He abandons the co-deliberative perspective.
And those who act for the sake of preserving their identity without
asking whether it is worth preserving lack of integrity, because they
do not even raise the ‘What is worth doing?’ question. ‘Whatever
sells’ and ‘whatever is me’ cannot ground action with integrity because these reasons do not address the co-deliberative question of
what is worth doing.
That hypocrites lack integrity is a common observation. Analyses
of integrity as a personal virtue, however, do not plausibly explain
why. On the integrated-self and identity pictures of integrity, one
would have to say that hypocrites lack integrity because their actions
are not integrated with their endorsements; or because in the course
of p r e t e n d i n g commitment, they a r e u n t r u e to their real,
identity-conferring commitments; or because sustained pretense
undermines the agent’s ability to be clear and un-self-deceived
about what she really does endorse.28 Although hypocrisy may be
bad in these ways for the hypocrite, this is not typically why we
charge hypocrites with lacking integrity. Hypocrites mislead. And it
is because they deliberately mislead us or others about what is worth
doing that they lack integrity. Jim Baker, for instance, persuaded a
lot of people to invest money in his doing God’s work. His embezzling revealed that he had misled them either about the value of
d o i n g God’s work o r the value of his doing it. Neither the
integrated-self nor the identity picture of integrity can explain why
misleading others, by itself and not because of its deleterious effects
on the hypocrite, has anything to do with lacking integrity. If, however, integrity is not a merely personal virtue, but the social virtue of
Taylor and Blustein both stress the way sustained hypocrisy may result in
self-deception and unclarity about what one really endorses.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
acting on one’s own judgment because doing so matters to deliberators’ common interest in determining what is worth doing, then hypocritical misrepresentation of one’s own best judgment clearly
conflicts with integrity.
This view of integrity also helps to explain the shame at failure to
abide by one’s own judgment as something more than mere shame
at the unsturdiness of one’s will or the guilty awareness of violating a
standard. If an agent passes herself off as someone who insists on
the importance of private spaces and then secretly indulges in reading another’s private letters, the thoughts, “I have no self-control”
and “This is wrong,” are different from the thought, “I have no integrity.” Neither the weakness nor the wrongness of the act immediately reveals lack of integrity. Rather, the thought, “I have no
integrity,” accompanies the revelation of one’s inability to stand for
something before others.
Finally, looking at integrity not as the personal virtue of keeping
oneself intact but as the social virtue of standing for something before fellow deliberators helps explain why we care that persons have
the courage of their convictions. The courageous provide spectacular displays of integrity by withstanding social incredulity, ostracism,
contempt, and physical assault when most of us would be inclined to
give in, compromise, or retreat into silence. Social circumstances
that erect powerful deterrents to speaking and acting on one’s own
best judgment undermine the possibilities for deliberating about
what is worth doing. We thus have reason to be thankful when persons of integrity refuse to be cowed.
Understanding integrity as a social virtue also shifts our sense of
what the obstacles to integrity might be. On the integrated-self picture, the primary obstacles to integrity are internal-self-deception,
weakness of will, shoddy practical reasoning, incoherence in and ambivalence about one’s endorsements. These are no doubt obstacles.
But what of contempt, ostracism, loss of a job, penal sanctions, the
breakdown of friendships and familial relations, being labeled ‘confrontational’, ‘difficult’, ‘ o v e r sensitive’, or ‘militant’, not to mention the inexhaustible confidence of others that one is wrong?
These are public obstacles to acting with integrity. Even the thickest
skinned and toughest willed may find them hard to stand up against,
especially on a continuing basis.
But if integrity is the virtue of having a proper regard for one’s own
judgment as a deliberator among deliberators, it would seem that integrity is not just a matter of sticking to one’s guns. Arrogance, pomposity, bullying, haranguing, defensiveness, incivility, close-mindedness,
THEJOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY
deafness to criticism (traits particularly connected with fanaticism) all
seem incompatible with integrity. All reflect a basic unwillingness or
inability to acknowledge the singularity of one’s own best judgment
and to accept the burden of standing for it in the face of conflict.
Moreover, acknowledging others as deliberators who must themselves
abide by their best judgment seems part of, not exterior to, acting
with integrity. Untempered by the thought, “This is just my own best
judgment,” standing for something puts one’s own and others’ integrity at risk-one’s own because of the temptation to supplement
“standing for” with coercive pressure, and others’ because coercion
may work. This is to say that when what is worth doing is under dispute, concern to act with integrity must pull us both ways. Integrity
calls us simultaneously to stand behind our convictions and to take seriously others’ doubts about them. Thus, neither ambivalence nor
compromise seem inevitably to betoken lack of integrity. If we are
not pulled as far as uncertainty or compromise, integrity would at
least demand exercising due care in how we go about dissenting.
Because we so often look for exemplars of integrity retrospectively,
looking for those who championed causes that to us now are clearly
worthy, it is easy to overlook what from their vantage point acting
with integrity must have looked like. Socrates, Galileo, Luther, and
King acted against the best judgment of their peers, including some
whom they admired. To think that caving in to their peers posed the
only threat to their integrity oversimplifies the nature of integrity.
Hubristic denial that others’ best judgment matters posed an equal
threat. However admirable those with the confrontational courage of
their convictions may be, even protesters risk losing their integrity to
VI. CONCLUDING REMARK
What I have had to say about integrity suggests that integrity may be
a master virtue, that is, less a virtue in its own right than a pressing
into service of a host of other virtues-self-knowledge, strength of
will, courage, honesty, loyalty, humility, civility, respect, and self-re~ p e c tMy
. ~ aim was to understand that service. What is a person who
tries to have integrity trying to do? I have not rejected (though I
have revised) the ideas that she is trying to be autonomous, or loyal
to deep commitments, or uncontaminated by evils. But I have tried
to argue that this is not the whole story. She is also trylng to stand
for what, in her bestjudgment, is worth persons’ doing.
owe this observation to Owen Flanagan.