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The Meaning and Definition of Integrity


The Meaning and Definition of Integrity

Written By: Pierre du Plessis (MBL, 1982, UNISA)
Date: 05/28/2014

In an effort to define the word "integrity", I came up with some explanations, after consulting some dictionaries and encyclopaedias.

Integrity is made up of several words, meanings and synonyms. It consists of a lot of what can be described as ethical and moral values or civilised values.

1. Soundness:

This refers to how healthy an opinion, argument, reasoning or a research finding is, implying how free it is from flaw, defect or decay.

Also, how free is it from error, fallacy, or misapprehension; exhibiting or based on thorough knowledge and experience; legally valid; logically valid and having true premises; agreeing with accepted views.

It also means solid, firm, stable and thorough; showing good sense or judgment based on valid information.

2. Completeness:

It means having all necessary parts, elements, or steps; highly proficient; totally, absolutely, thoroughly and fully carried out; including all possible parts.

3. Sincerity:

It means fairness and straightforwardness of conduct; adherence to the facts.

4. Honesty:

It implies a refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in any way.

5. Honor:

It suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one's profession, calling, or position.

6. Probity:

It implies tried and proven honesty or truthfulness.

7. Incorruptibility:

It implies trustworthiness and truthfulness to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility or pledge.

It also finally means being incapable of corruption; not subject to decay or dissolution; incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted.

8. Conclusion:

The question to be asked is where does a nation stand with regard to these principles of integrity; where does an organisation or political party stand and finally what is my individual position? This synonymous question can also be asked: How civilised are we?

9. Resources:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

10. The Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy states the following:

"Integrity is one of the most important and oft-cited of virtue terms. It is also perhaps the most puzzling. For example, while it is sometimes used virtually synonymously with 'moral,' we also at times distinguish acting morally from acting with integrity. Persons of integrity may in fact act immorally-though they would usually not know they are acting immorally. Thus one may acknowledge a person to have integrity even though that person may hold importantly mistaken moral views.

When used as a virtue term, 'integrity' refers to a quality of a person's character; however, there are other uses of the term. One may speak of the integrity of a wilderness region or an ecosystem, a computerized database, a defense system, a work of art, and so on. When it is applied to objects, integrity refers to the wholeness, intactness or purity of a thing-meanings that are sometimes carried over when it is applied to people. A wilderness region has integrity when it has not been corrupted by development or by the side-effects of development, when it remains intact as wilderness. A database maintains its integrity as long as it remains uncorrupted by error; a defense system as long as it is not breached. A musical work might be said to have integrity when its musical structure has a certain completeness that is not intruded upon by uncoordinated, unrelated musical ideas; that is, when it possesses a kind of musical wholeness, intactness and purity.


Integrity is also attributed to various parts or aspects of a person's life. We speak of attributes such as professional, intellectual and artistic integrity. However, the most philosophically important sense of the term 'integrity' relates to general character. Philosophers have been particularly concerned to understand what it is for a person to exhibit integrity throughout life. Acting with integrity on some particularly important occasion will, philosophically speaking, always be explained in terms of broader features of a person's character and life.

What is it to be a person of integrity? Ordinary discourse about integrity involves two fundamental intuitions: first, that integrity is primarily a formal relation one has to oneself, or between parts or aspects of one's self; and second, that integrity is connected in an important way to acting morally, in other words, there are some substantive or normative constraints on what it is to act with integrity. How these two intuitions can be incorporated into a consistent theory of integrity is not obvious, and most accounts of integrity tend to focus on one of these intuitions to the detriment of the other.

A number of accounts have been advanced, the most important of them being: (i) integrity as the integration of self; (ii) integrity as maintenance of identity; (iii) integrity as standing for something; (iv) integrity as moral purpose; and (v) integrity as a virtue. These accounts are reviewed below. We then examine several issues that have been of central concern to philosophers exploring the concept of integrity: the relations between types of integrity, integrity and moral theory, and integrity and social and political conditions."

ARTICLE SOURCE: http://www.articlesbase.com/leadership-articles/the-meaning-and-definition-of-integrity-89135.html

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