Episode 048: Full of WINtegrity

We hear a lot of talk these days about “Integrity,” and how it’s all good to have and such. But what does it even mean to have integrity? In this episode BF took a trip to Curzertown (the realm of Texas Tech philosophy professor Dr. Howard Curzer) to find out the answer. Ad-hoc philosopher Michael Hayslip also joined us for another appearance, and sadly we did without the presence of the good Kevin Saunders. Somehow we survived though, and came up with quite the F-isode in the process. Check it out!

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This week’s post-show song pimpage: “A Talk With George” by Jonathan Coulton

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One Comment on "Episode 048: Full of WINtegrity"

  1. YdacRetsim
    27/10/2009 at 12:24 pm Permalink

    While Dr. Curzer made many good points, I disagree with him on a number of issues:
    First, I feel he is incorrect that internal coherence is a vice. While I won’t make the argument that it is a virtue, to call it a vice assumes that it is NEVER a good thing, and that seems an unreasonable claim. To say that we need contradictions in ourselves presupposes that there is no right answer at which we can ever arrive (or that “right answers”conflict with one another). The closest I could come to agreeing with him is to say that having no inconsistencies could LEAD to vice, but even that is further than I would say for certain: I am more inclined to say that all vices necessitate a contradiction in character, leading one to sacrifice one of their moral commitments.

    This leads to my second disagreement with Dr. Curzer. To say that one should not have unconditional commitments. I would instead argue that moral commitments ought to be unconditional. The problem that he thinks exists comes from 1) having unwavering commitment to wrong things and 2) a misunderstanding of what unconditional commitment is. For example, one could have the unconditional commitment to the immorality of theft. This person will never steal. Even bringing up the condition of, for example, stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family, that person’s commitment to not stealing should not be considered immoral; it is at worst unwise or unrealistic, given his circumstances. Another point is that an unconditional commitment does not mean unwillingness to ever compromise, particularly in his example of a lawmaker’s debate. If one side is unconditionally and uncompromisingly committed, for example, to a pro-life stance, it does not mean they are not willing to compromise with pro-choice lawmakers on a given bill. Rather, it means that they will never go AGAINST their convictions. Compromise between unconditionally committed individuals consists in an arrangement where neither side feels they have “won,” but neither side has lost either. A bill which did not outlaw abortions and did not protect abortions, but did put specific requirements such as requiring the father’s consent, would be an example of a compromise.

    Lastly, on the subject of unconditional love, I feel that Dr. Curzer is absolutely mistaken. He assumes that love means shielding someone from the consequences of their actions. One of Socrates’ more coherent claims was that a person would rather their loved one receive punishment, and by punishment, moral improvement, for their actions, rather than wanting them to wallow in their corrupt nature. If a loved one committed a murder, for example, I would turn them in. Not because I stopped loving them, but because I love them and would rather they go to jail than run free unattoned. Likewise, were I in a relationship with someone who abused me, and I loved them, I would turn them in out of love for them, hoping that one day they could be the better sort of person that therapy/counseling could provide. Even if they didn’t change, I wouldn’t stop loving them. As a simpler way of putting it: it is a mistake to claim that loving someone means doing what they would want you to do: loving someone means doing what you believe is best for them.

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