If we are going to promote integrity aggressively and integritively, the com- plexities that challenge us need to be recognized for what they are, namely, genuine complexities that do not admit of algorithmic or syllogistic resolu- tion. Of course, this brings with it an awesome responsibility vis-a`-vis one's judgment and action in the resolution of a dilemma or solution of an ethi- cal problem. We simply must be honest and straightforward about this with our students. Living a life of integrity is hard.
In this connection I am reminded of something suggested by Caroline Whitbeck, namely, that if we ignore the dynamic character of an ethical situation, we are likely to confuse ''making the best of a bad business'… with taking an action that is justified in the general case' (Whitbeck, 1996,
p. 14). We need to help our students become sensitive and aware so that in addition to be being able to recognize an ethical issue or challenge, they can recognize that and how knowledge of the personalities or personas (e.g., professional roles) in the situation inform as well as deline- ate options and details of the means available for dealing with the chal- lenge. In this we will be moving far from what I have called geosyllogistic thinking in ethics.
After all, as Whitbeck observes, acting rightly 'requires consideration of how to treat others, and what becomes of others and oneself in addressing intermediate problems, as well as in the final outcome of the larger story in which the smaller problems are located' (Whitbeck, 1996, p. 15).
I firmly believe that as educators it is our responsibility to help students understand that and how ethics is important now, in the context of their academic work, as well as later, after graduation, in the context of their career or profession. The best place to start is with a serious, genuine, non- instrumentalist commitment to academic integrity that includes exploration of its ethical foundation.
I'll close by inviting attention to something that is both foreseeable and welcome, namely, if we are able to create a culture of integrity on campus that is like the one that ought to exist in the organizations our students will be part of after graduation, they will be well positioned to create and sus- tain a culture of integrity in the communities and organizations where they live and work. This, I submit, is a good way to address the ethical neediness of society that I spoke of earlier. If we strive to promote integrity integri- tively, our efforts can contribute in a substantial way to creating a world in which the ethical neediness of society is diminished and lives are made better as we learn more; that we are committed to these goals is, I should say, a shared and salient feature of higher education; it is also, I believe, a clear implication of the theme of this conference, 'achieving ethical excellence.'
There were 'about 41,000 results' when I Googled 'will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do,' (May 26, 2011), many of which are for the honor codes of schools academies, or colleges. There were 'about 37,300 results' when I Googled 'will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do' (May 26, 2011). The grammati- cal difference seems to be linked to a change in the code of the United States Military Academy made in 1998:
GRAMMATICAL CORRECTION. A grammatical correction was made to the state- ment of the Honor Code in 1998. For several years, the grammatical imperfection in the previous version of the Cadet Honor Code (A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do) had been a subject of discussion among the Cadet Honor Committee, the Corps of Cadets, and the Staff and Faculty ….On 29 September 1998, after careful consideration, the full Cadet Honor Committee, in a nearly unanimous vote, changed the statement as it read at that time ('A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal,
nor tolerate those who do') to the current statement: 'A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal,
or tolerate those who do.' (USMA, 2000)
2. The idea that one's ethical obligations constitute a short list is neither novel nor new. Indeed, one of the best known lists of ethical obligations, the Decalog, comprises roughly seven ethical obligations (the breakdown and numbering varies by faith) and of these only one requires action - honoring one's parents - the others require that one refrain from acting.
3. One might say, well, that would be a lie; one can lie by omission. Whether such constitutes a lie is an intramural dispute, since it is assumed that how what one is talking about is categorized is ethically decisive. Perhaps the best illustration of this sort of thing involves what Catholic writers call mental reservations, which may be 'wide' or 'strict' (New Advent, 2009). Intramural players might also argue that not saying anything constitutes cheating (the concept is rather all encompassing in the hands of some) or, if need be, though this is surely a stretch, stealing. In any case, this is an intramural game I am unwilling to play. It is in fact part of my purpose here to discourage others from playing it.
4. Perhaps one could fulfill this obligation in other ways by, for example, confronting the wrongdoer or calling her/him out in a way that shames him/her.