[Read and listen to the full essay in our Project Journal here]
Integrity maintains the connotation of being untouched. Two of its prominent images — that of upholding norms or of being idealistic — reinforce that connotation through the concepts of rules and of forms. Incorruptibility is then found in being rigid or absolutely being. I believe there is an undemocratic politics and a stulifying view of moral education in this nest. I would prefer something humane: a trustworthy goodness comfortable in anarchy, disobedience, non-conformity and becoming, stuff of the comedy of life. What happens to what we want out of integrity when we begin with the assumption that the good part of life — and also the moral — involves being in touch with life and with people? Secondly, what happens to the good stuff of life — and the moral — when we avoid being normative or being ideal, that is, when we turn away the very concepts of norms and of ideals? Thirdly, what happens when good people aren’t seen as undeviating or absolute but are seen as in the process of becoming/ What is incorruptibility when we reject integrity and prefer humanity?
Educated at Yale and at the University of Chicago, Jeremy Bendik-Keymer is Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Professor in Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of The Ecological Life: Discovering Citizenship and a Sense of Humanity (2006) and co-editor (with Allen Thompson) of Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future (2012).