On the Role of Human Morality in Information System Security: From the Problems of Descriptivism to Non-Descriptive Foundations

On the Role of Human Morality in Information System Security: From the Problems of Descriptivism to Non-Descriptive Foundations

Mikko T. Siponen (University of Oulu, Finland)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-931777-15-5.ch019
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This chapter argues, following the scholars of the first category, that human morality has a role as a means for ensuring security. But to achieve this goal solid theoretical foundations, on which a concrete guidance can be based, are needed. The existing proposals (e.g., Kowalski, 1990; Baskerville, 1995; Dhillon & Backhouse, 2000) do not suggest any theoretical foundation nor concrete means for using ethics as a means of ensuring security. The aim of this paper is to propose a framework for the use of ethics in this respect. To achieve this aim, a critique of the relevance of ethics must be considered. The use of human morality as a means of ensuring security has been criticized by Leiwo and Heikkuri (1998a, 1998b) on the grounds of cultural relativism (and hacker ethics/hacking culture). If cultural relativism is valid as an ethical doctrine, the use of human morality as a means of protection is very questionable. It would only be possible in certain “security” cultures, i.e., cultures in which security norms have been established–if at all. However, the objection of Leiwo and Heikkuri (1998a, 1998b) is argued to be questionable. We feel that cultural relativism has detrimental effects on our well-being and security. Things might be better if the weaknesses of cultural relativism were recognized. This paper adopts the conceptual analysis in terms of Järvinen (1997, 2000) as the research approach. An early version of this paper was presented at an international conference on information security (IFIP TC11, Beijing, China, 2000). The chapter is organized as follows. In the second section, the possible ethical theoretical frameworks are discussed. In the third section, the objections to the use of ethics as a means of protection based on cultural relativism (descriptivism) are explored. In the fourth section, an alternative approach based on non-descriptivism is suggested. The fifth section discusses the implications and limitations of this study. The sixth section summarises the key issues of the chapter including future research questions.

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Table of Contents
Ali Salehnia
Chapter 1
Gurpreet S. Dhillon, Trevor T. Moores
The phenomenal growth in Internet commerce in recent years has brought privacy concerns to the fore. Although privacy as a concept has been well... Sample PDF
Internet Privacy: Interpreting Key Issues
Chapter 2
Gerald Grant
Managers, IT practitioners, and IS researchers are easily seduced by the latest information technology wave. Consequently, we tend not to question... Sample PDF
One Size Does Not Fit All: Potential Diseconomics in Global Information Systems
Chapter 3
Peter P. Mykytyn Jr.
Not too many years ago, hardly anyone had heard the terms “Web browser,” “Web,” or “electronic commerce.” Today, the World Wide Web, often referred... Sample PDF
Some Internet and E-Commerce Legal Perspectives Impacting the End User
Chapter 4
Mo Adam Mahmood, Gary L. Sullivan, Ray-Lin Tung
Stimulated by recent high-profile incidents, concerns about business ethics have increased over the last decade. In response, research has focused... Sample PDF
A New Approach to Evaluating Business Ethics: An Artificial Neural Networks Application
Chapter 5
Jennifer Kreie, Timothy Paul Cronan
End user acceptable/unacceptable behavior related to computer information systems has caused significant losses to business and society. Some... Sample PDF
Copyright, Piracy, Privacy and Security Issues: Acceptable or Unacceptable Actions for End Users?
Chapter 6
J. Christopher Westland
Internet auction markets offer customers a compelling new model for price discovery. This model places much more power in the hands of the consumer... Sample PDF
Ten Lessons that Internet Auction Markets Can Learn from Securities Market Automation
Chapter 7
Janice M. Burn, Karen D. Loch
Many lessons from history offer strong evidence that technology can have a definite effect on the social and political aspects of human life. At... Sample PDF
The Societal Impact of World Wide Web - Key Challenges for the 21st Century
Chapter 8
Dieter Fink
Under the system of e-commerce, organisations leave themselves open to attack which can have catastrophic consequences. Recent well-publicised... Sample PDF
Method over Mayhem in Managing e-Commerce Risk
Chapter 9
Darryl A. Seale
This study examines predictors of software piracy, a practice estimated to cost the software industry nearly $11 billion in lost revenue annually.... Sample PDF
Why Do We Do It If We Know It's Wrong? A Structural Model of Software Piracy
Chapter 10
Ali Salehnia, Hassan Pournaghshband
The process of software development is usually described in terms of a progression from the project planning to the final code, passing through... Sample PDF
Ethical Issues in Software Engineering Revisited
Chapter 11
Matthew Warren, William Hutchinson
We have seen a rise in computer misuse at a global level and also the development of new policies and strategies to describe organized computer... Sample PDF
Cyberspace Ethics and Information Warfare
Chapter 12
Mark Campbell Williams
Should ethics be a significant importance in information systems educational research? In this chapter, I reflect on my heuristic and... Sample PDF
A Conversation Regarding Ethics in Information Systems Educational Research
Chapter 13
Susan J. Harrington
Despite the existence of laws and much publicity surrounding software piracy, it is widely believed that software piracy is commonplace (Eining &... Sample PDF
Software Piracy: Are Robin Hood and Responsibility Denial at Work?
Chapter 14
Anastasia Papazafeiropoulou, Athanasia Pouloudi
Policy implementation for electronic commerce is a complex process since policy makers, national governments in their majority, have to act in a... Sample PDF
Social Issues in Electronic Commerce: Implications for Policy Makers
Chapter 15
Andrew Ward, Brian Prosser
In the last decade of the twentieth century, with the advent of computers networked through Internet Service Providers and the declining cost of... Sample PDF
Kierkegaard and the Internet: The Role and Formation of Community in Education
Chapter 16
James Douglas Orton
The themes explored elsewhere in this volume, on the intersection between information technology and social responsibility, take on new shapes when... Sample PDF
Manufacturing Social Responsibility Benchmarks in the Competitive Intelligence Age
Chapter 17
Randall C. Reid, Mario Pascalev
Outsourcing of information technology (IT) is the transfer of a company’s information technology functions to external vendors. Ordinarily, such... Sample PDF
Strategic and Ethical Issues in Outsourcing Information Technologies
Chapter 18
Stephen K. Probert
This chapter describes research in progress on the philosophical concept of authenticity – used as a framing device for providing an interpretation... Sample PDF
Ethics Authenticity and Emancipation in Information Systems Development
Chapter 19
Mikko T. Siponen
This chapter argues, following the scholars of the first category, that human morality has a role as a means for ensuring security. But to achieve... Sample PDF
On the Role of Human Morality in Information System Security: From the Problems of Descriptivism to Non-Descriptive Foundations
Chapter 20
Geoffrey A. Sandy
In western tradition information ethics has its origins in Athenian democracy. It was characterised by an oral culture and freedom of speech. Later... Sample PDF
The Government "Downunder" Attempts to Censor the Net
Chapter 21
Atefeh Sadri McCampbell, Linda Moorhead Clare
The following chapter defines the practice of DNA analysis and identifies the ethical considerations of human genetic testing in the workplace and... Sample PDF
The Genetic Revolution: Ethical Implications for the 21st Century
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