Volume 24, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2004
Ann E. Mongoven
Integrity versus Impartiality
Healing a False Dichotomy
A FALSE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY HAS become entrenched in contemporary ethical and political theory. Drawing on the work of Bernard Williams and Alasdair MacIntyre, this essay sketches the dichotomy and argues for its ultimate falseness. Eco-theologians' innovative use of the term "integrity" suggests directions for transcending the false dichotomy. Increasingly, the term "integrity of creation" is used to flag religioethical dimensions of ecology. This usage changes the subject of integrity from individuals to systems, implying that personal integrity is a derivative concept that is related to how one responds to the complexity of systems. A structurally parallel change in the subject of integrity would benefit political theory. It would promote an "ecological politics" that integrates alternative definitions of integrity as wholeness, consistency, and balance. It also would suggest new conceptions of civic virtue that avoid dichotomizing between personal integrity and public impartiality.