Ethics, religion, and relativism

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Conference Paper
This study explores the fundamental philosophical differences found in the ethical decision making approaches of students enrolled in a Management Information Systems (MIS) course required at an accredited university in New England. The decision choices of the students were classified according to five widely accepted theories of ethics: (a) Axiological, (b) Deontological, (c) Perfectionist, (d) Utilitarian, and (e) Relativistic. Based on their major areas of study, students were classified into three categories: (1) Arts & Sciences majors, (2) Business majors, and (3) Information Technology majors. The analysis of 103 decisions confirms the existence of statistically significant differences among students in their ethical approaches to resolving an information technology dilemma based on their major areas of study. While the Arts & Sciences majors prefer Utilitarian ethics, Business majors prefer Axiological, and Information Technology majors favor Relativistic approach. Some possible reasons behind these differences are discussed in the paper.
In contrast to other articles in this series on the history of moral philosophy the present essay is not devoted to expounding the views of a single author, or to examining a particular moral theory. Instead it discusses an important dispute between two medical accounts of the relation between theological and moral propositions. In addition to its historical interest this debate is imporant both because it connects earlier and later ethical thought - being influenced by Greek moral theories and influencing subsequent European philosophy - and because it concerns issues that remain important to philosophers and to those who claim that their ethical beliefs are dictated by religious convictions.
There is a common philosophical challenge that asks how things would be different if some supposed reality did not exist. Conceived in one way this can amount to trial by sensory verification. Even if that challenge is dismissible, however, the question of the relation of the purported reality to experience remains. Writing here in connection with the central claims, and human significance, of theism; and drawing on ideas suggested by C. S. Pierce, C. S. Lewis, Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, I aim to turn the tables and argue that the broad structure and basic features of human cognitive and affective experience indicate their fulfilment in God.