ROGER SCRUTON, the conservative philosopher, academic and journalist, has been dropped as a Financial Times columnist following the disclosure that he is being paid £54,000 a year as a consultant to the tobacco industry.
Professor Scruton received a letter from the newspaper's editor Andrew Gowers on Friday telling him that his weekly countryside column, This Land, would no longer being required.
He has written for the paper for three years but fell into disfavour after it was disclosed that he was a paid adviser to Japan Tobacco.
In a leaked e-mail, he was shown to have suggested that the cigarette company extend his two-year-old contract by a further £12,000 a year in return for his placing of articles in the media defending smokers' rights. 27 Jan 2002 The Telegraph.
Louise Antony, a philosophy professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, pointed out the difference between the moral views of an individual and their ethical behavior: “The evaluation of the philosophical work — the quality of the arguments — is one thing, and the evaluation of the philosopher’s behavior is something else.
She added, “We take our job to be giving students the tools to make good ethical decisions. But of course, a philosopher can know what the tools are, and still be bad at using them.”--Louise Antony May 20, 2016, in Buzzfeed commenting on the Thomas Pogge scandal.
The idea that the quality of the arguments is essential to the evaluation of the philosophical work goes, within analytical philosophy, back to Russell, who (recall) made a sharp distinction between argumentative "philosophy" as "theory," which aims at "understanding" of the world and intellectual reflections that orient practice and, thereby, generate "some new way of feeling towards life and the world, some way of feeling by which our own existence can acquire more of the characteristics which we must deeply desire." For Russell it was obvious, then, that whatever merit Spinoza's writing have it is not as philosophy.* (I have suggested that Russell, in turn, was inspired by Boole's evaluation of the Spinoza-Clarke debate.)
One consequence of Russell's distinction is that it facilitates the evaluation of arguments as disembodied entities decoupled from the living subject and their functional role in the practices that generated them. Arguments, then, are about the world and the evaluation of them is done with reference to their quality as arguments and the facts they are about. On this view the work of philosophy can, in principle, be left to machines once they are capable of generating and evaluating interesting arguments. The source of argument is irrelevant, if not an outright (genetic) fallacy, in judgments of quality.
Of course, in practice, the source of the argument is not wholly irrelevant because one can obtain credit, status, and (indirectly, perhaps) a professional livelihood by them. Moreover, credit and status can be leveraged to produce influence (by way of letters of recommendation, editorial-ships, grant-agency-influence, dispensing PhD/Post-doc positions, conferences, etc.) in the profession and, if one wishes, to generate authority in the world at large (editorials, summits, UN conference circuit, policy-advice, bigger grant agencies, etc.). Even if one stipulates, for the sake of argument, that professional credit/status is obtained on strictly epistemic grounds (and ignores the role of, say, trust), a philosopher's credit is deployed to reinforce public utterances in sometimes zero-sum contexts that are not strictly epistemic.
Integrity is derived from the Latin integer--a whole (number) or something untouched/unblemished. Let's consider a philosopher's philosophical integrity as the way(s) in which one's professional arguments, professional credit, and public utterances and comportment cohere. The idea behind is simple: it is meant to capture the thought that there is an intimate relationship (perhaps one of partial identity or accountability) between our words and our character; that there is some relationship between our lived experience and 'our' disembodied arguments. The nature and content of philosophical integrity is different for different kinds of philosophers--not all of us have a non-professional, public profile; not all of us theorize about (the possible) world(s) we inhabit. One important fact about philosophical integrity is that it is context sensitive. It also accommodates those who wish to keep their distance from or frown on a moralized conception of professional life--their philosophical integrity will be constituted by practices that can deviate significantly from such mores.
Philosophical integrity should not be confused with (i) professional integrity as such. Professional integrity is a narrower category which only governs one's professional behavior. In addition, (ii) Philosophical integrity does not encompass a whole person's (adult) life; after all, many of us philosophize about extremely narrow slivers of the world. Finally, (iii) the idea of philosophical integrity thus understood should not be confused with what the Ancients called (the path toward) 'wisdom' or (more expansive) philosophical emendation such as the Stoics or Spinoza practiced/preached.
Some such notion of philosophical integrity can help account for the unease one may feel about, say, the way (according to a Buzzfeed article) Thomas Pogge seems to have leveraged his professional influence by treating (potential) letters of recommendation as a form of currency to elicit more favorable behavior from young women that shared with him a desire to improve the world. As I noted, in the way we treat plagiarists, we recognize the significance of something like professional integrity (perhaps in order to secure the better functioning of the profession) and Pogge's behavior seems to be in violation of a mix of professional and philosophical integrity.
I was reminded of the idea of philosophical integrity because Rugor Scruton was knighted this week. I admire Scruton's writings and wit. But I can never wholly give myself over to his arguments because in the back of my mind I have a kind of perennial mistrust of his words. Not because I disagree with his politics (I do disagree with them, but I do tend to agree with his criticisms of our contemporary pieties), but because his dealings with Japan Tobacco violate not just the public trust but also philosophical integrity (Scruton is known, in part, to insist that there should be limitations on market behavior).
If there is such a thing as philosophical integrity and it helps us define what is to be a philosopher then -- pace Louise Antony -- part of what it is to be a philosopher is to have some practical know-how in using the tools of philosophy wisely or virtuously.
*"The ethical work of Spinoza appears to me of the very highest significance, but what is valuable in such work is not any metaphysical theory as to the nature of the world to which it may give rise, nor indeed anything which can be proved or disproved by argument. What is valuable is the indication of some new way of feeling towards life and the world, some way of feeling by which our own existence can acquire more of the characteristics which we must deeply desire. The value of such work, however immeasurable it is, belongs with practice and not with theory. Such theoretic importance as it may possess is only in relation to human nature, not in relation to the world at large. The scientific philosophy, therefore, which aims only at understanding the world and not directly at any other improvement of human life, cannot take account of ethical notions without being turned aside from that submission to fact which is the essence of the scientific temper." (On Scientific Method In Philosophy)