The Art of War
By Sun Tzu
Chapter I. Laying Plans
Paragraph 18. All warfare is based on deception.
Never will those who wage war tire of deception.,
I will force the enemy to take our strength for weakness, and our weakness for strength, and thus will turn his strength into weakness.
18. ^ Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State Within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia--Past, Present, and Future. 1994. ISBN 0-374-52738-5, chapter Who was behind perestroika?
Zeno’s new paradox? The flying arrow of integrity …
Dr Michael James Macaulay
Benjamin (1990) suggests that there are four common groups of people who lack integrity. Moral chameleons shift their position because they have no fixed or consistent set of moral values. Opportunists are similarly flexible, but they will only change a moral stance if it gives them some personal gain, a position which clearly relates to the importance of perceived rather than actual integrity. Hypocrites have two sets of moral values, one for public behaviour and another for private, which shows a clear personal moral inconsistency. Finally there are the moral self- deceivers, who Benjamin explains:
are motivated by a discrepancy between the values and principles that they like to think of themselves as acting upon and their conduct is motivated by quite different, incompatible interests and desires. To resolve this tension and, at the same time, to preserve the idealized self-conception while indulging the incompatible interests and desires, they deceive themselves about what they are doing (cited in French, 1996: 143).
This paper concludes that most discussions on integrity suffer from this same self-delusion.
The formal position is coherent but lacks the moral rigour that many critics seek, therefore it is irrelevant. In prioritizing a theory of the good, the moralist position is actually arguing for the very sensible notion of moral reflection, which again makes integrity largely irrelevant: good morals can be argued for without any recourse to the notion of integrity. At best the moral view relegates integrity to a secondary value. The necessity of compromise is similarly coherent, but does not need to be made in reference to integrity. Reflection and compromise stand on their own terms as useful if not essential virtues.
This paper does not wish to purge the word integrity from the dictionary, but it does respectfully suggest that it is used a little more honestly in debates on public life. Although it has emotive power it has no real independent moral force: there is little point in having the courage of our convictions if those convictions are immoral. At the same time moral reflection is clearly an essential process that is strong enough for us not to try and square the circle and saddle it with the need for steadfast and unchanging opinions. This paper suggests that debate should instead focus on those elements that integrity supposedly covers – morality, theories of the good, the need for reflection and compromise. It may be logically possible to show that we can change our minds and hold trenchant views simultaneously, but if we use our eyes we can see that, like Zeno’s flying arrow, integrity can be maintained while moving from one moral value to another.
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