Morality and Integrity work invisibly in human society. Morality make human different from animals. It is a set of social principles (Gert and Gert, 2002) which are used to determine an action is good or bad. Integrity is a part of morality, means that a person’s behaviors are consistent with the espoused values (Yukl and Van Fleet, 1992).
Our group presented the importance of morality and integrity, and the benign relationship with leadership in the previous presentation with some found studies. This paper is going to cover these again with personal experience and 5 concepts, which are law, human duty, personal principles, honesty, and interaction. The 5 concepts are derived and simplified from the synthesis of Piaget’s theory (1936) and Kohlberg’s theory (1964), which already explained in the lecture and presentation.
Law, human duty, personal principles, honesty, and interaction related to each other in morality and integrity. The following attribute and define the concepts with sequential nature.
Law is our initial understanding of morality. We learned from the law and the fear of punishments. We believe law is equal to morality and cannot be change. The meaning of morality is given by outside. According to Piaget’s theory (1936), what we learned from law is heteronomous morality, the first level of morality. Law is the base for children to learn morality. Children learned from the unchangeable rules and breaking rules will lead punishment. Law is the first concept we know about morality. In that time, we learned what we cannot do.
Gradually, we realized that law is not equal to morality but we still not able to distinguish morality completely, so we observed. Scholars tried to define and prove some behavior as human duty by gave out thought experiments. For example, Kant (1797) indicate integrity as a human duty by suggested a though experiment “Lying to a murderer at the door”. In fact, before we are able to read those essays, we can already perceive most of the human duties by observing. Human duties do not indicate in law, but everyone know and accept it. We perceived it before we are able to have our own rule in that time, we learned what we can do.
Then we learn to stand in different views. We realized morality does not have an absolute rule as law and depends on the intentions but not consequence. “Law is just the minimum content of morality.” (Payne, 1976). People should learn morality out of the law and develop personal rule of morality. Piaget’s theory (1936) suggested it is autonomous morality. Children put oneself in someone’s shoes and able to think toward an adult. We understand everyone may have different rules of morality and take appropriate action according to it. In that time, we learned how to judge and understand other’s behaviors.
Honesty is a kind of moral responsibility. It should be the first step of morality as everything suggest building up in the truth. Although it is impossible to create a “zero lie” ideal world, we should pursue that in order to create a harmonious society. Some people suggest we should remain silent when integrity conflicts with other moral principles. However, moral responsibility should be constituted by positive and negative duties (Belliotti, 1981). Negative duty requires we should not do something while positive duty requires we should do something. As an integral integrity, we should not lie and we should tell the truth. Honesty is a higher level of integrity in personal as it is implementing an integral integrity by achieving positive duty. In that time, we learned what we should do.
The above are personally oriented morality. Morality and integrity are essential in human society and society is constitute by different individuals. Interaction is indispensable. In the Book of Rites (505-434 B.C.E) from Chinese Confucianism, it mentioned the step and the range of being moral is individual, family, country, and world. After we learned and achieving moral in personal development, we are going to do it for other and stimulate other to be moral. In order to achieve a higher stage of morality, we are not only going to be moral personally, but also motivate other to be moral.
These are the steps we learn and achieve morality and integrity. It is a kind of socialization as once we came to the world, we are going to learn it. We need to be moral as it is the rule of human society. Moral values as a foundation for an orderly society.
Human learned morality from law initially. Along with age and knowledge growth, we are able to perceive morality out of literal rules and do more then the must. Out of the personal development, we pursue to motivate other to be moral by interaction in order to create a harmonious society. Especially in leadership, a good leader not only be oneself. As a good and moral leader, the leader should have a good communicate with members, can motivate them to be moral, and set up a common goal in order to a team works more united and firmer.
I had a personal experience related to morality and integrity. A friend requested me to lie to her parents that we have been hang out together on a Sunday. She refused to explain the reason even I asked, but she was pleasing to me. As we are best friend and I have a good relationship with her parents, it is easy for me to help her in the case. However, it troubled me as I resist to lie. In the case, I had analyzed from rationality and sensibility. Finally, I refused her even it may destroy our friendship, and I told her if she was willing to tell me the reason, we can think of other better solutions together.
In the previous presentation, our group suggested a formula for judging whether we should or should not violate the integrity. It can be considered if the behavior is “for others, necessary, and we are ready to bear the consequences”.
I analyzed from rationality and sensibility in the case. Rationally, lying must be incorrect as integrity is human duty (Kant, 1979). Although the action is for others and it may help my friend, I cannot consider the necessity and the consequences of the behavior as I do not know the antecedent. If the case did not involve moral principles such as human life or both of us are not able and ready to bear the consequence, lying must not be consider as a solution. Sensibility, I believe trust is bilateral. Friendship is not asking each other but helping each other. If she told me the antecedent and reason, I can think of other solutions with her instead of blindly responding to her request. Honesty also works on friendship.
Actually, I am not such a firm person even it seems I made a correct decision. In the case, I was uninformed of the antecedent, so I will consider it more extreme. However, if the reason she needs my lie is about trivia, I may not think of morality and integrity, and may help her lack of consideration. People usually think that lying on trivia is not a big problem. It is wrong. “Lying was always wrong, no matter what.” (Kant, 1797) Giving oneself an excuse to lie would develop a habit of lying in a long run. I need to be firmer and think twice before act. I am not sure a firm person, so I did not have a clean cut in friendship. In order to maintaining a friendship, tolerant and reliance are important. Although I was not going to lie to her parents as an assistance, I am not going to ignore her. I want to help her in other way. I show my willingness no matter she accepts or not. At least she can know that I am willing to help her, as long as it does not violate morality and integrity.
The case can also be considered with the 5 concepts. Lying in trivia may not violate the laws, but it against human duty and my personal principles. The law of Hong Kong only indicates the integrity of commercial and government officials are illegal (ICAC, 2019). However, “Law is just the minimum content of morality.” (Hart, 1976) and Integrity is a human duty (Kant, 1797). Apart from those existing principles, I built up my own rules and judgment of autonomous morality (Piaget, 1936). I know that it is incorrect even lying on trivia. Besides, lying may influences one’s honesty, credibility and personal evaluation. If a person is tagged as unreliable, it may also affect the opportunity in a long run. Besides, in the higher level of morality, honesty should be works as interaction. Unilateral honesty is a self-fulfillment. If we can advance others to be more honest and moral, it may create a better relationship and society.
Personal development is endless. The step of achieving morality is not in succession absolutely. Personal development and social development are synchronous.
In personal development, we should be moral and honest whatever we are leader or member. As a leader, we need to think twice before action because leader have more power and responsibility of the team and the decision may affect the term or even society. In order to make the team be firmer and be respected in a long run, morality and integrity are necessary. We should not afraid to be a leader because of stress. No one is perfect, even the leaders. As a member, we can remind and give suggestions to the leader if the decision made by the leader is immoral. we are not going to put all responsibility to the leader as team is form by leader and members but not only the leader. Morality and integrity are the duties of everyone.
As a designer, it is not absolute that we need to design thing for helping people. However, if we are going to reach a higher stage of morality, we do it. We should not only force on money but need to think about what is unique about this profession. Each profession has an own way to benefit the society. Design is a problem-solving skill, we can design thing that benefit to the society, especially people with special need. Besides, the design should be honest, no plagiarism. In order to pursue an ideal society and world, morality and integrity are indispensable.