Kidnapped by Stevenson

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A META VIEW OF INFORMATION ETHICS Charles R. Crowell Department of Psychology and Computer Applications Program University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556 Phone: 574-277-4774 Fax: 574-271-2058 Email: and Robert N. Barger Computer Applications Program University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556 Phone: 574-289-8939 Fax: 574-289-2039 Email: Running Head: META VIEW OF INFORMATION ETHICS A META VIEW OF INFORMATION ETHICS Abstract This article describes how a person's view of reality (i.e., one’s metaphysics or worldview or Weltanschauung) influences that person's view of morality (i.e., one’s ethics). This possibility has broad implications for understanding personal ethics in general and computer ethics in particular. Four worldviews were revealed in a survey of college students: They were Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, and Existentialism. Idealism is the view that reality is ultimately grounded in the perfect, abstract, ideal world—the world of spirit and ideas. Realism emphasizes the ultimate importance of the natural world, that is, the physical, material, sensible universe. Pragmatism suggests that reality is not static in the sense of depending on absolute ideas or matter, but rather is ultimately "in process" and must be constantly probed and determined by social experimentation. Existentialism holds that reality is not objective, rather it is subjective and must be constructed by each individual. The implications of these worldviews for three examples of ethical dilemmas relating to information technology, those concerning piracy, privacy, and authority-deception are described and discussed. Keywords: Metaethics, Information ethics, Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, Existentialism, piracy, privacy, authority-deception Introduction "Metaethics" is a term subject to potential

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