Integrity is a key moral principle. It is defined as a state of having firm moral values and acting with honor (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017). From a personal perspective, understanding, and research, integrity is understood as a having upright morals that are consistent with an individual’s claims and that demonstrate high standards of honesty. Anything short of these concepts defies the definition of integrity. This article will analyze integrity from different perspectives in order to develop an easy to comprehend and a consistent definition of the term.
Integrity is a term that is associated with moral principles. From a dictionary definition, it is a noun that means exercising honor and firm moral principles. This means that an individual’s morals cannot be compromised regardless of various forces that may surround a situation. In other words, integrity may be understood as being honorable, upright, noble, virtuous, sincere, truthful, and trustworthy. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2017), a person who is neither truthful nor trustworthy is simply of questionable integrity as the person’s actions are not consistent with the words that they speak. One is not expected to be swayed by the environment or other factors in order to determine how they conduct themselves. Otherwise, this will equate to weak moral standards as the individual cannot stand their ground. At the same time, an individual has to be fair to everyone else. Other than standing firm in what one believes, the actions and their results should not have a negative impact upon the lives of those around the subject.
The meaning of integrity extends beyond the philosophical perspectives to the justice environment where one is considered as being of a high integrity if they are truthful, make a moral judgment, act with nobility, and treat others with fairness (Besser-Jones, 2008). For instance, a jury that cannot be compromised is considered to be of high integrity standards. To show the firmness of one’s morals, one could also consider the meaning of the word from the perspective of togetherness and resilience. In technology, for instance, an information system is of high integrity if its operations cannot be compromised and if it can withstand external pressures such as malicious attacks.
From a personal perspective, integrity means having upright morals, having actions that are consistent with one’s words and values, and being honest. For an honest person, it will definitely be easy to speak the truth and to gain the trust of others. The morality of an individual cannot be questioned when one’s actions are consistent with their words. In fact, this is similar in meaning to what Taylor (2014) refers to as to “walk the talk” or “talk the walk”. While speaking of how leaders should act in order to demonstrate high levels of integrity, the author argues that their actions should be consistent with their words – whichever comes first. At this point, it is then easy to believe what one says, have trust in them, and consider them as upright. Anything that is not consistent with this definition will equate to a lack of integrity or dishonesty. A common application of this term can be found in the legal justice environment where, despite being expected to act with high morals and not to be swayed by the deep pockets of the wicked people, a section of the legal professionals end up compromising their morals and acting opposite of how they tout themselves by accepting bribes.
In summary, integrity has been identified as a term that refers to morality. One needs to have firm moral standards and stand firm regardless of the situation. This is the same as doing the right thing all the time. One also has to be honest and act in ways that show a consistency of their words and their actions.
- Besser-Jones, L (2008). Personal Integrity, Morality and Psychological Wellbeing: Justifying the Demands of Morality. Journal of Moral Philosophy, 5, 361–383.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2017). Integrity. SEP. available from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/integrity/
- Taylor, B. (2014). The Best Leaders “Talk the Walk”. Harvard Business Review. Available from https://hbr.org/2014/08/the-best-leaders-talk-the-walk