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The Hale Ethics Series


RIT Press


It seems a reasonable hypothesis that institutional health depends upon institutional integrity and institutional integrity depends upon individual integrity. If that’s right, “disease” may be manifest at two levels—at the level of institutional or individual integrity.

I begin with the first part of the hypothesis above, that institutional integrity is a condition of institutional health. The legal theorist Lon Fuller articulated this idea in a less generalized form when he spoke of a morality internal to law that makes law possible. I will explain and illustrate this idea and indicate how it applies to institutions of various sorts, including professions such as engineering, architecture, or medicine. Then I will turn to the second part of the hypothesis, that there is a dependency relation between institutional integrity and individual integrity. However, instead of exploring the consequences of lapses of integrity by individuals within an organization, I will approach this part of the hypothesis in terms of its suggestion that institutional integrity nourishes or promotes individual integrity. This suggestion presupposes a formative relation between institutions and persons; that in some measure our practices dictate both what we should do and what we should be. Todd May makes a powerful case for this thesis in his book Our Practices, Ourselves, and a recent book on privacy by Anita Allen has a similar thrust. I draw on their work to cash out what is little more than a suggestion in Fuller’s legal philosophy. I do this with an eye to achieving some clarity about what’s at stake if, as was suggested earlier, “disease” can manifest itself at the level of institutional integrity as well as individual integrity. And that, in turn, adds to the strength of the case for saying, with Fuller, that the principles internal to an enterprise constitute a morality and the responsibilities of the persons within an institution are moral responsibilities.


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