the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur

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I had a minor disagreement with somebody today on what constituted integrity.

He had posted an inspirational list of what he thought were worthy traits, with a little explanation of what each trait entailed. Under the trait of integrity he said, "Be unwavering in your beliefs." He went on to expand on that statement with examples of it, but for all his good intentions, I felt that he had set himself in the wrong direction right from the outset.

I explained it as follows:


Be unwavering in your beliefs."

This is the opposite of integrity; this is dogma.

Integrity is about being honest, and maintaining moral uprightness. It is not about clinging stubbornly to beliefs. A person of true integrity will openly challenge their own beliefs, and will not shy from others challenging the same. If the beliefs cannot stand up to rational questioning, then perhaps they are not worth holding.

A person of true integrity has the honesty to admit when they are wrong.

He replied to me that his interpretation of integrity was "what integrity means to me".

He defended his view on what it meant, arguing that he believed in being honest and morally upright, so steadfastly adhering to that belief meant that he had integrity. Ergo, the definition of integrity was to steadfastly hold to your beliefs.

I did not bother to pursue the discussion at that point since I have better things to do with my day (like drink bourbon and post about it here). It gave me pause though.

I wonder how widespread his misconception of integrity is? If people think that being unwavering in their beliefs puts them on the moral high ground, that goes a long way to explaining a lot of our societal ills. Regarding ones stubborn adherence to a belief, even in the face of truth and reason, is an unhealthy precedent. It treats intellectual dishonesty as a virtue. It's no wonder our society finds it so hard to engage in rational discourse when people believe that clinging to their misconceptions makes them better than you or me.
Tags: integrity
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