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Abstract

Moral views and perceptions, their ethical evaluation and justification, and practical concerns about how to incorporate them all play important roles in research and practice in the information systems discipline. This paper develops a model of normative issues ranging from moral intuition and explicit morality to ethical theory and meta-ethical reflection. After showing that this normative model is relevant to IS and that it allows an improved understanding of normative issues, the paper discusses these levels of normativity in the context of two of the most prominent normative topics in IS: Privacy and intellectual property. The paper then suggests that a more explicit understanding of the different aspects of normativity would benefit IS research. This would leverage the traditional empirical strengths of IS research and use them to develop research that is relevant beyond the boundaries of the discipline. Such broader relevance could be aimed at the reference disciplines. In particular, moral philosophy could benefit from understanding information technology and its role in organizations in more detail. It could, furthermore, inform policy makers who are increasingly called on to regulate new information technologies.

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