This paper considers the possible role of an understanding of philosophical and cognitive variants in the education of information systems (IS) students. It is argued that this is important for delivering information systems and e-business value in a networked society. The first section argues that philosophy can play an active role in IS research and practice. It suggests that a particularly useful frame for integrating philosophical issues within IS research and practice is critical realism. The emphasis within critical realism suggests a consideration of both ontological and epistemological issues and that what the world is seen to be largely defines the way it can be studied. It also argues for the importance of understanding how we come to know in relation to our cognitive processes. Given this underlying framework the paper argues for the importance of an understanding of philosophical and cognitive variants by information systems students. It suggests that the reality of people’s cognitive styles affects the way that they see the world and the way they develop practice within that world. This is followed by a consideration of some the factors contributing to the cognitive profile of each individual. For the purposes of this paper, a cognitive profile is considered to consist of measures of an individual’s cognitive style, learning style and personality. IS student and practitioner awareness of these variants is an important element in their understanding of how individuals in a variety of organisational roles interact with each other and with information systems.