Integrity, Commitment, and a Coherent Self

Journal of Value Inquiry 46 (3):369-378 (2012)
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Abstract
Integrity not only is a central concept within virtue ethics and a subject of considerable debate among philosophers regarding its nature and relation to other virtues, but also is important for our understanding of what it means to possess a constituted and coherent self. Much of the literature on integrity is focused on relationships among moral principles and virtues, while less attention is paid to any relationship that integrity might have to practical agency or personal identity. In maintaining this focus, philosophers fail to appreciate the special relation integrity has to the constitution of a coherent self. Central to integrity are considerations about self-identity and agency because it is through ongoing and deliberate activities that reflect the type of person with which she wishes to identify that a person constitutes self-identity and agency in a coherent manner. Once the relationship between integrity and a coherent self is properly understood, it becomes clear that the moral content of integrity is relatively thin and that the approbation usually associated with a person of integrity stems not from judgments about convictions or principles, but from the relationship between actions and commitments.
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