Are we sending mixed messages? How philosophical naturalism erodes ethical instruction

Journal of Business Ethics 75 (2):171 - 180 (2007)
To develop critical thinking skills, higher order ethical reasoning, a better grasp of the implications of ethical decisions, and a basis for ethical knowledge, it is necessary to explore the philosophical premises foundational to one’s ethical persuasion. No philosophical premises are more important than those pertaining to the nature of human personhood and business’ responsibility to respect the inherent value of human beings. Philosophical naturalism assigns the essence of human personhood strictly to causal interactions of physical matter. Substance dualism, on the other hand, posits both a physical aspect and an immaterial substance to personhood, interacting within the totality of each being. This paper argues for the logical superiority of substance dualism in achieving the overriding objective of discerning ethical knowledge. Substance dualism offers a better explanation – and one that more closely follows the way most people commonly experience themselves and others–than naturalism for free agency and accountability, meaningful moral standards, confidence in knowing what ethical decisions to make, and the moral drive residing in conscience.
Keywords accountability  conscience  ethics instruction  materialism  metaphysics  moral standards  naturalism  substance dualism
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