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Mark Behets

Schopenhauer also had an idea about philosophical integrity: "“It is just as little necessary for the saint to be a philosopher as for the philosopher to be a saint; just as it is not necessary for a perfectly beautiful person to be a great sculptor, or for a great sculptor to be himself a beautiful person. In general, it is a strange demand on a moralist that he should commend no other virtue than that which he himself possesses.” (WWR, Vol. 1, p.383.) Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

Schliesser, Eric

Sorry, Mark, but Schopenhauer is describing a different issue. On my account you can have philosophical integrity and be deeply immoral.

Leigh M. Johnson

This is a great essay, Eric. It’s made me wonder about other conditions under which one might be said to have a compromised philosophical integrity and also about what our response to those so compromised ought to be.

An example: Over time, I have become fully convinced of the immorality of meat-eating, for a number of reasons and in response to various (social, economic, political, moral) arguments. And yet still, I eat meat. Now this would seem to be a rather straightforward instance of a lack of (what you call) “philosophical integrity” -- my philosophical commitments and my IRL behaviors clearly do not constitute a coherent whole. I can’t really justify the fact that I continue to eat meat, but I think it’s more complicated than “lack of will power” or the irresistible deliciousness of Memphis barbecue. It’s more like, for reasons I cannot fully explain, my commitment to the arguments just hasn’t translated into behavioral changes. For what it’s worth, I’m not ambivalent about the persuasiveness of the arguments. I just haven’t changed.

(I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat wrt a number of large and small philosophical commitments. I suspect this because people aren’t out in the streets revolting. At least not here in the States.}

I think a case like I describe is different that Scruton’s or Pogge’s. In the Scruton case, we could say there’s a compromised professional integrity, but I might disagree with you that his alleged quid pro quo arrangement with Japan Tobacco is totally inconsistent with his wider philosophical commitments. (Not an argument I want to have right now, though.) In Pogge’s case, well, he more or less denies that he did what he is accused of doing, so while others might take him to have a compromised philosophical (and professional, and personal) integrity, he doesn’t regard himself so. In my example, on the other hand, I *know* that my philosophical commitments and my behaviors are at odds.

What should be the consequences? Am I not to be trusted?

(Apologies in advance if this is a bit fast and loose. Just had a second to comment before heading out the door, but will follow this thread later!)

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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