Integrity - Does it really matter?

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,924
If they could, they wouldn't be psychopaths. They are good at imitating these behaviours but can't internalise any of them.
If they could, they wouldn't be psychopaths. They are good at imitating these behaviours but can't internalise any of them.

She found that psychopaths were easily bored and needed a career "where there is a lot of action. They would never do a mundane job. They are cold and quite callous and they are risk-takers. They have to be in a situation where things are changing the whole time and they don't have to make long-term plans

I am not sure why this would be incompatible with integrity.... There is no evident correlation...
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,924
Integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody is watching..
The problem is that people have different understanding of "the right thing"... Most people who - in our understanding- do evil, think they are doing the world a service.. In their view what they are doing IS the right thing... The Stalins, Maos, Hitlers, Khmer Rouges, ISIS etc... of this world all thought they were doing the right thing... They were NOT thinking "lets see what evil I can do today"...

Although fantasy, this is reflected in Avenger's Infinity Wars... Thanos -who destroys half of all living beings in the universe (no less)- believes he is doing the right thing
 
Mar 2019
1,979
Kansas
To sum up, I am of the opinion that backstabbing, corruption and lying has part of humanity for as long as it has existed. People have been talking about the moral degradation of society since biblical times, yet we ware still functioning and flourishing. I feel that society is no more immoral than it was 1000 years ago, but an increasingly connected world makes it seem so.
I think this comes from the constantly shifting moral codes we live with. Every generation, as you say complains about morals. The reality is the morals of my generation are different from those of another generation. For example acceptance of gay people is almost universal. When I was a kid gays were feared and hated.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,410
Albuquerque, NM
Relativity of Values. After a lifetime of studying and thinking about the foundations of what we believe is Right v. Wrong, I'm convinced that there are no objective Universal Values. Instead what I see is that values are dependent upon the who, what, and where a culture/society is who adopt them. The values that we, that is Americans in the Southwest have traditionally held, are quite different than ... say the Tugee in early 19th century India. Anyone here today that strangles a passing tourist as a human sacrifice to Mother Kali is likely to end up in a penitentiary instead of being regarded by the world as a Righteous person. In the Southwest during the 19th century it those who killed "The Other", took their scalp and land were regarded as heroes ... Apaches, Mexicans, and Anglo-pioneers, and today a follower of Mother Kali isn't likely to escape social justice. Values are not only varied by who, what, where or when, they evolve as conditions change. Survival trumps artificial values ... isolate a group with only the essentials for a week, and within a month they'll be eating one another. A member of an isolated tribe of head-hunters raised in a different context might be a Saint ... in our estimation, while the Tribe would probably regard our example as complete loss of values.

The upshot of what appears to be Relativistic would almost certain result in chaos if adopted by our species and practiced by most individuals. Justice breaks down when every defense is justified when each person decides for themselves what is Right and Wrong. Hitler/Stalin the moral equivalent to Mother Theresa or His Holiness the Dali Lama? The Law of the Jungle, which breaks down to "Might Makes Right" would become a nightmare of either oppression or of complete Anarchy. Murder and coercion turn solid footing into a bottomless Great Dismal Swamp, and future outcomes would be impossible to predict. Fortunately, I believe there is an alternative or two to the end of human civilization and a greater probability of extinction.

We find that Suffering and the search for happiness, security and a better life appears universal to sentient beings. That is the foundation for all the moral/ethical/religious and cultural Taboos. So the primary, and very likely Universal Value is the mitigation of group suffering. It is to provide for the group that many traditional value systems evolved, and when the group survives and prospers, individuals in the group tend to prosper as well, or believe that they will prosper later as a result of being part of their group. In times past, that might mean territorial expansion or the elimination of perceived threats keep group taboos strong. Kill the opposition, or enslave them. That was actually pretty effective in antiquity, long before the term "genocide" was coined. That I'm afraid to say was has been the common history of moral and ethical values. We are herd animals seeking security and safety in our own troop of Hominids. However we have for a host of reasons, the ability to take our future into our own hands, and what was can be changed. When Taboos and values no longer are regarded as useful to securing our need for security, predictability, and justice, we can and have changed. While the World was still large and maps were littered with "Unknown" labels the old values tended to work reasonably well. Science and technology by the mid-seventeenth century in Europe was filling a large vacuum left by divisions within the Roman Church. Social conditions after the devastation of the Plague undercut the stability of Feudalism. Europeans found more profit in being Worldly and self-self serving than in being pious supporters of Church and State. Printing with movable type, gunpowder firearms, and lens-making were notable advances. Surviving historical documents from Classical Antiquity fueled new thinking into what sort of lives work best for humans. All those and more led to adoption of scientific thinking and the value of objective, rational thought. By the end of the 18th century, Europe had established colonies around the globe to advance their nationalist goals according to the best Economic Theories of the time. Contact with foreign cultures and values, European Colonists being stanch chauvinists, Western Values were believed superior. Technological prowess equals superiority, and so aboriginals ... no matter how ancient and stable they had been ... were regarded as ignorant backward savages.

Scientific and Technology spun off into the French Enlightenment that went hand in glove with the early Industrial Revolution. The individual, so most Enlightenment Thinkers believed was entitled to Justice and equality; each person has real value and should be able to pursue their own potential for the benefit of all society. The Enlightenment was more an evolution reaching back to the Greeks, and it was extremely influential. In the New World the Enlightenment was the ideal of many, if not most of the Founding Fathers seeking independence from England. Enlightenment Ideals were written into the Constitution of 1787 saving the Democratic coalition of States from disaster of its own making. Shortly thereafter, the French People rose in Revolution and replaced their king and aristocrats with a popular government and the guillotine. The Terror led to a coup and Empire. The Napoleonic Wars hastened the development of Industry and technology and ... a slow shift from traditional religious values to materialism where profit trumped almost everything else. In reaction, Marx and Engels developed Communism as the theoretical Dictatorship of the Proletariat. From 1800 to 2100, a mere two hundred years, the World as we know it has had great impact on the whole Globe. Communications and Transportation Revolution have reduced the time and space we all live in. Two terrible World Wars followed by fifty years of living under the threat of Nuclear Annihilation has given birth to a Cultural/Value set that has left most human beings with uncertain values. Modernization has been toward centralization and urbanization. Little more than 50 years ago most Americans were engaged in agriculture, lived in small towns and villages where they were imbued with small group dynamics. My generation grew up as staunch individualists living not very different than our great-grandfathers. People who were born as slaves, or who fought in the ACW were still alive sitting in the shade of monuments to the past, while their children were beginning to dream of traveling to others worlds. The Bolshevik Revolution was in place by 1919, joined with Nazi Germany to divide Europe and was betrayed before they could betray, and joined their Ideological Enemies to survive. The advent of Atomic energy led to the Cold War. From the 40's until the 90's, humans lived under the perceived threat of a spasm nuclear exchange that if anyone survived it would be to a nightmare world. Then, or so it seemed, the Cold War ended and all those people(s) who had been dominated by coercive Ideological systems were ... Free. Noop, but we did hope and who could blame us when the sun momentarily came out.

So if we think a bit about what values we have as individuals, groups, and as humanity as a whole, the OP's question is more complex than it might seem at first. Several members above have intimated much of what I've written here.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,410
Albuquerque, NM
So what values would/should be promoted for our species? The world still seems torn between systems where either the values are set by a centralized coercive dictatorship of one sort or another, and those who staunchly believe in the Enlightenment Ideals of individual liberty and Justice, of governments who are constrained and representative of the whole People, not just a few. The first form of government has a long history, and the second has struggled sense it was first experimented with by the Greek City States and the Roman Republic/Empire. I think it reasonable to suppose that the two systems of governing mankind will continue out to the planning horizon.

That being the case, as I see it, the OPs question becomes "How important is it that citizens of representative governments instill the same sort of indoctrination as coercive governments; but with a different slant the foundations of power?" In coercive systems, whatever the Mighty few decide may be felt as oppressive by those governed and Slave Masters must be ever wakeful and willing to brutally assert their power. Finding agreement in any democratic system is difficult and unlikely to satisfy contending partisans in republics, has its own problems. Dictatorships will do what kings and emperors have always done, and sometimes those systems can last a couple of thousand years. Republics don't have that long a track record, but I certainly hope that this republic at least is good for another several hundred years.

In a largely materialistic Age where old values and verities have radically changed within the living memory of people, where and how can Enlightenment values be effectively built? A return the some mistaken notion of Golden Ages that are now safely in the past is not possible. People will not go back to living the way we did even twenty years ago, much less fifty or a hundred and fifty years ago. Any such attempt would be a failure in short order, and the oppressive governmental systems would win by default. Who out there reading this could avoid starvation by returning to the Land and forsaking ALL the advances provided in just the past ten years? Can ye plow a field with a horse or oxen ... even if somehow you were given the proper harness and tackle and an animal to pull the lot? The World has always been a dynamic, but now the Global economy has caused folks to forget just how miserable life was before relatively inexpensive electrical power was widely available. Minorities have remained vulnerable to the Majority right up until today, but will we try to stuff all those back into darkness before bedtime?

Humans are unfortunately alike in their selfishness, envy, pride, and thirst for control. Humans tend to be more motivated by the high emotions of the Mob, and Mob mentality is the antithesis of reason and justice. Eliminate human emotions and create meat automatons. Preach High Ideals and you risk creating monsters like those blots on humanity we witnessed during the 20th century, and before. Teaching values becomes a conundrum that should not be lightly taken. Old values like integrity, courage, self-sacrifice, honesty, and loyalty are great, but never forget those virtues can be used to prop-up oppressive regimes as quickly as giving meaning to citizens of "free" nations.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,374
T'Republic of Yorkshire
I'm not entirely sure what integrity means.

Suppose I say "When I get to power, I will reward those who stood by me, especially those who were with me from the beginning and believed in me.", and I then go on to do exactly that, that would generally be regarded as an example of integrity.

But if I add "And I will line up those who are against me and have them shot.", and then also do that, is that not also integrity?
 

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,656
San Diego
Should integrity be taught in schools and colleges? Should children be taught about the value of serving their community and their country? Oddly enough we could probably learn a lot from North Korea with regards to civic virtue.

It's quite worrying that so many people in power become corrupt. The way Parliament has behaved in recent years with their tax evasion, Trump's lawyer and the dubious pay offs. Mind you, if we look at the Russians Putin happily murders any journalists who disagree with him.

Are honour, integrity and manners more relevant to old fashioned values? I certainly think so, you only need to look at Robert E Lee , Washington and other statesmen. Even Churchill took the blame for Gallipoli and went into the trenches - that wouldn't happen nowadays. A lot of the nouveau-riche don't seem get it and neither do a lot of the digitally obsessed younger generation. Nowadays people are judged by their pay cheque and their material assets, not what they do.

A lot of people criticise religion, but I think the decline of morality and civic virtue goes hand-in-hand with the decline of ecclesia. If people aren't taught about the importance of mercy, kindness and decency then the only thing left is the law of tooth and claw, and that seems to be where we find ourselves today.

Is it better to get a job where you can serve and try and improve your community or is it better to get a job where you can earn as much as possible and screw everyone else over? What do you guys think?
I would point out that nearly every corrupt billionaire and politician claims religious belief.
It is the Religious in the USA who support modern fascist ideology.

Among the few hundred people I have known well in my life, the vast majority who have sterling ethics and whom I would trust with my life have No religious beliefs at all.
I raised my sons without religion... but with a firm foundation in ethics and stoic philosophy- and they are the salt of the earth.

The only function religion has is to provide Exceptions to moral consideration. It identifies who is saved and who is going to hell. Who you can hate and who you can ostracize.
It provides a framework of excuses for treating other as lesser souls undeserving of god's grace.
And it promises the faithful that everyone they hate will be horrifically punished by the God who made them and purportedly loves them.

Some people grow up to be ethical Despite religion, not because of it.

And thru most of history, religion was the rationale behind the least ethical human conduct ever committed.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,410
Albuquerque, NM
Integrity? Behavior consistent with professed values. A murder who proudly proclaims his value system is made evident by his illegal killing of other human beings, might be said to have integrity of a sort. That isn't what is almost always what is intended when using the term "integrity". Most often we are led to award the term to people who conform to the traditional values of their sub-set of humans. It is not a zero-sum concept and can range from a person/group who talk a good game in public, but whose over-all behavior may only give lip-service to the values they espouse, to the rare individual who behaves like a True Believer. Behavior always stemming from thought and volition can be extremely dangerous, but if the fundamental value is to mitigate suffering the behavior can be extremely positive. Reason and compassion DO make an important contribution toward a kinder, gentler human future. A person who chooses the harder path when confronted with problems may compromise their integrity for very good reasons, but that can also be their defense and excuse for lying, cheating, stealing, and other nefarious behavior. Who do we honor more the person who betrays the Group Values, or the fellow who loses fame, fortune, friends and a viable future rather than betray their value system.

We all get to choose what sort of character will guide our lives, and then we are tested periodically to see just how much "integrity" we really have. Some don't care a whit, and othes will die before betraying a trust, but what ends does that integrity serve? Those who believe in Enlightenment Ideals have my general approval. Those who whose integrity serves the domination of the many by the few are the opposition. When gangsters, dictators or believers in any system built upon the enslavement of the mind and debases the value of each individual appear they must be resisted ... but with integrity.