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In other projects Wikimedia Commons. In Virtues of the Mind , Linda Zagzebski , gives a very comprehensive list of intellectual virtues, adding such items as intellectual humility, perseverance, adaptability and communicativeness. There are a range of kinds of actions one might expect from a person of intellectual integrity as well: for example, being against plagiarism, refusing to suppress counter-arguments, and consistently acknowledging help. The fact that there are a number of distinct intellectual virtues, involving distinct, and sometime conflicting, dispositions to action, means that we have a need to balance or manage these virtues.

For example, a person who has too much intellectual courage may well become a dogmatist, and a person who is excessively impartial will probably lack conviction. It seems plausible to say that intellectual integrity is that quality that enables a person to balance the various demands of intellectual work and to manifest intellectual virtues in a proper order.

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This balance cannot be maintained without a certain degree of reflection on the relationship between different intellectual commitments. The importance of appropriate reflection to intellectual integrity indicates that, like personal integrity, it is closely related to self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge appears essential to integrity in general, and given that intellectual integrity concerns knowledge itself, the relationship between having intellectual integrity and self-knowledge is particularly close. This close relationship might lead one to assume that self-deception is antithetical to intellectual integrity because it undermines the kind of self-knowledge, such as knowledge of our intellectual strengths and capacities, necessary to such reflection.

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However, self-deception does not necessarily undermine intellectual integrity. In fact, some self-deception might be necessary to pursue some lines of thought well. The mild self-deception that one has a good idea before one really has an idea at all is often necessary to get started on a piece of work. Nonetheless, some forms of self-deception are seriously detrimental to intellectual integrity.

Gabriele Taylor , believes that self-deception constitutes the most fundamental and important case of lack of integrity. Casaubon is a cleric working on the connections between different religions, a mammoth scholarly work he has devoted himself to for many years. The kind of failure of integrity here is partly due to failure to take the views of others seriously, and thus differs from cases where others might encourage one in self-deception.

Casaubon acted to prevent his wife Dorothea and others from realising the paucity of his researches. His case is more blameworthy because of this failure and it demonstrates the way in which self-deception can undermine intellectual integrity. Another important type of integrity is artistic integrity.

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He may have lacked personal integrity because he did not take an assessment of his values and commitments seriously enough. Calhoun , suggests that perhaps Gauguin believes that morality does not demand he give up partiality to his own artistic project. If this is his view, then the success of his artistic project may contribute to a favorable judgment of his moral integrity. Nor is it clear that being successful in Tahiti contributes to our judgment of his artistic integrity. Would our judgment of his artistic integrity have suffered had he stayed at home producing his art?

Artistic integrity may come into conflict with personal and moral integrity, but it is surprisingly difficult to characterize the precise circumstances of such a conflict. There are certainly connections between artistic integrity and the moral integrity of artists, which in turn is connected to the moral features of artworks themselves.

Novitz , 16 , for example, argues that the values we bring to art are social ones, and that so-called pure aesthetic values are themselves socially induced. At the very least, the moral values which artworks suggest or promote are relevant to considerations of artistic integrity. On the one hand, artistic integrity and moral integrity can overlap, particularly if the standards of artistic integrity are high.

On the other hand, artistic and moral integrity can come apart in situations of great pressure. Circumstances also vary, and with them both the difficulty of pursuing integrity, and our assessment of its merit. Stewart Sutherland argues that the case of Dimitri Shostakovich creates difficulties for an account of integrity developed in terms of consistency.


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  7. The idea is that Shostakovich demonstrated equal if not greater integrity than other more artistically consistent composers writing in more congenial circumstances by coding his works with anti-Stalinist irony. More plausibly, however, one might argue that Shostakovich showed considerable strength of character in difficult circumstances whilst also admitting to his many artistic compromises, compromises which affected his integrity as an artist. Thus, one might rate his moral integrity more highly than his artistic integrity. Expectations of artistic integrity have to be tempered by understanding of the conflicts and pressures, both commercial and political, involved in pursuing artistic values.

    Does having one type of integrity mean that one is, to that extent, moral? Halfon says that integrity in one sphere of life is admirable, though less admirable than having integrity overall and a specific type of integrity may interfere with moral integrity rather than be expressive of it.

    Yet overall integrity demands that this conflict be managed in appropriate ways. Integrity is so broad that it has to encompass morality in a profound way. There certainly can be conflict between types of integrity, particularly where the demands of a profession interfere with personal and moral integrity. However, while different types of integrity can be sequestered from each other, integrity of one type is more likely to flourish in a context of greater integrity in various spheres of existence.

    The kind of virtues and skills which are developed in maintaining, say, intellectual integrity, are likely to be available to make use of in dealing with the conflicts and temptations which threaten personal and moral integrity, and conversely. Despite the fact that it is somewhat troublesome, the concept of integrity has played an important role in contemporary discussion of moral theory.

    2. The Identity View of Integrity

    An important and influential line of argument, first developed by Bernard Williams, seeks to show that certain moral theories do not sufficiently respect the integrity of moral agents. This has become an important avenue of critique of modern moral theory. See, for example, Scheffler and Lomasky Modern moral theories, the most representative of which are utilitarianism and Kantian moral theory, do not concern themselves directly with virtue and character.

    Instead, they are primarily concerned to describe morally correct action. Theories of morally correct action generally aspire to develop criteria by which to categorize actions as morally obligatory, morally permissible, or morally impermissible. Some theories of morally correct action also introduce the category of the supererogatory: an action is supererogatory if and only if it is morally praiseworthy, but not obligatory. The two theories of primary concern to Williams are utilitarianism and Kantian moral theory, and both of these are usually interpreted as eschewing the category of the supererogatory.

    See Baron for an argument that Kantian moral theory has no need for the category of the supererogatory. Williams maintains that both utilitarianism and Kantian moral theory are deeply implausible because of their integrity undermining effects. His argument against utilitarianism makes the more transparent appeal to the concept of integrity and it is this argument that we examine here. This is, very roughly, the view that an agent is to regard as morally obligatory all and only actions that maximize general well-being.

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    The act-utilitarian theory that Williams criticizes has an important feature: it aspires to describe the correct form of moral deliberation. It does more than specify what it is for an action to be morally correct, it specifies how an agent should think about moral decisions. Agents should think about which of the actions available to them will maximize general well-being and decide to act accordingly. Notice that this theory is completely impartial and that it makes no room for an agent to give special weight to personal commitments, causes, projects, and the like.

    Act-utilitarianism recognizes no personal sphere of activity in which moral reflection operates merely as a side-constraint. According to Williams, an agent who adopted this version of utilitarianism would find themselves unable to live with integrity.

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