The Insufficiency of Honesty

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Stephen L. Carter links integrity and honesty. There are three constraints discussed in this essay. First, integrity does require a degree of moral reflectiveness. Second, Integrity may cause conflict that is must be resolved. It does not necessarily produce or protect interpersonal harmony. Third, a person who has integrity can be trusted. It does not avoid the restructuring of social structures and associations, because it leaves the matter to exercise of interpersonal authority. He states that one cannot have integrity without being honest but one can certainly be honest yet have little integrity. He also states that honesty can actually be used quite selfishly. In fact, there are key differences between honesty and integrity: Honesty is most laudable when we risk harm to ourselves; it becomes a good deal less so if we instead risk harm to others when there is no gain to anyone other than ourselves. Integrity may counsel keeping our secrets in order to spare the feelings of others. Sometimes, as in the example of the wayward husband, the reason we want to tell what we know is precisely to shift our pain onto somebody else - a course of action dictated less by integrity than by self-interest. Some of his examples where complete honesty is uncalled for include a husband who confesses at the deathbed of his wife that he has been unfaithful to her 35 years ago. He feels that, the husband had a cruel self-interest and his peace of mind was much more important than his wife’s. He explains the point that honesty can be something everyone seems to have but without integrity, it is fake honesty or immoral. A wonderful epigram proves this point of honesty can be something that everyone seems to have: The most important thing in acting is honesty; once you learn to fake that, you’re in. Some other examples are the confidentiality between a lawyer and his/her client, and a Catholic priest's confidentiality in confessions. The lawyer or priest...
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