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Accounting Ethics


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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

PART I PURPOSE, BACKGROUND, AND APPROACH 1 Chapter 1 The Technical and Ethical Responsibilities in Accounting 3

Accounting, Ethics Reform, and You 3

A Brief History of Accounting Ethics in Higher Education 7

The Authors' Perspective 9

Accounting Education: Training for Competency and Moral Philosophy as a Resource 13

Accounting Theory and Ethics 15

Accounting Discourse: Knowledge Production and Communication 17

Accounting as Practice: The Realization of Internal Goods and Virtues 20

Chapter Review Questions 23

References 24

Chapter 2 Decision Making in Accounting 26

The General Nature of Decisions and Decision Making in Accounting 27

Making a Decision Under Conditions of Uncertainty 28

The Learning of Technical Competency in the Classroom and Mentored Work Experience 29

The Goal of Accounting: The Production of Financial Reports for Various Stakeholders 30

A Working Definition of Ethics 36

Utilitarianism 39

Deontology 40

Virtue Ethics 41

Social Contract Theory 43

A Decision Model for Accounting Ethics 45

Outline of the Book 53

Chapter Review Questions 55

References 55

PART II A DECISION MODEL FOR ACCOUNTING ETHICS 57 Chapter 3 Defining the Problem - From an Accounting and an Ethical Point of View 59

Introduction 60

Problem-Definition: Finding and Formulating the Problem 61

The Accounting Problem and the Ethical Problem 63

Finding the Problem in Accounting Ethics 68

Formulating the Problem in Accounting Ethics 73

Summary 77

Chapter Review Questions 78

Cases 78

Chapter 4 Accounting Standards for Financial Statements: Resources for Decision Making 81

The Objective of Financial Statements 82

Using Rules for Financial Statement as a Resource to Make Accounting Decisions 83

The Conceptual Framework 84

The Financial Statements 85

Accounting Rules for Recording Transactions and Valuing Accounts 88

Quality of Information 92

Ethical Issues Associated with the Profit or Loss Statement and the Statement of Financial Position 93

Fraud and Ethics 101

Chapter Review Questions 104

Cases 104

Chapter 5 Moral Philosophy and Ethical Reasoning: Resources for Decision Making 116

Toward an Ethical Framework in Accounting Practice 117

Using Moral Philosophy Principles as a Resource to Make Accounting Decisions 119

The Philosophical Traditions, Duties, and Virtues 120

The Elements of Moral Philosophy Embedded in Accounting Practice: Utilitarianism 121

Summary 123

The Elements of Moral Philosophy Embedded in Accounting: Deontology 124

The Deontological View of Human Nature: Reason, Freedom, and Autonomy 125

Virtue Ethics and Accounting 133

Chapter Review Questions 143

Cases 144

References 149

Chapter 6 Professional Ethics as a Resource for Decision Making 151

Accounting and Professional Ethics 152

Professional Ethics as a Resource to Make Accounting Decisions 152

Accounting as a Profession 153

Professional Ethics 156

Codes of Ethics as Tools for Decision Making 159

The Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants 160

Using Professional Ethics in Decision Making in Accounting 166

Summary 169

Review Questions 170

Cases 170

Chapter 7 Stakeholders in Accounting Ethics: Pressures and Conflicts of Interest 178

Accounting and Stakeholders 179

Stakeholders and their Influence on Accounting Decisions 180

Characteristics of Stakeholders 182

Classifying Stakeholders in Practice 185

Pressures on the Accountant in the Decision-Making Process 189

Conflicts of Interest 190

Summary 193

Chapter Review Questions 194

Cases 194

Cash Fraud 195

Long-Term Debt Fraud 196

Misappropriation of Assets 196

The Auditors 196

References 202

Chapter 8 Generating and Assessing Decision Alternatives: Practical Wisdom and Action 203

Introduction 204

Reflections on Our Decision Model 205

Year-End Adjusting Process, Adjusting Entries, Bad Debt Expense Estimates 206

A Violation of Accounting Standards? But Not an Ethical Problem? 213

Internal Controls and Embezzlement 215

To Bribe or Not to Bribe: That is the Question 216

Reflections on Case Analysis: Practical Wisdom and Deliberative Judgment 221

Human Motivation and Behavior: Incentives and Support for Ethical Action 224

Chapter Review Questions 225

Cases 225

References 232

PART III ACCOUNTING IN SOCIETY 233 Chapter 9 Auditing Ethics 235

The Role and Responsibilities of the Auditor 235

Values, Standards, and Virtues in the Professional Codes of Conduct 236

Audit Judgment 242

Appendix 260

Chapter Review Questions 263

Cases 263

References 269

Chapter 10 The Accountant in Society: Deciding for Ethical Action 270

Chapter Themes 271

The Individual Accountant: Making Ethical Decisions 271

The Social Context for the Accountant's Decision Making: The Ethical Domain 272

The Moral Structure of Accounting: Economic Events and Accounting Discourse 274

The Perception that Accounting is Only a Technical Craft, But Not an Ethical Practice 276

Professionalism in Social Context 277

The Accountant and the Profession in the Market and Society 279

The Mixed Good of Accounting Discourse: Market Values and Accounting Ethics 283

Market Values and Accounting Values: The Social Domain of Accounting Ethics 284

Market Values and the Function of Accounting 285

Social Contract Theory 288

Corporate Social Responsibility 291

Chapter Review Questions 293

References 294

Index 297

About the Author

Iris Stuart is Professor of Auditing in the Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law at NHH (Norwegian School of Economics), Bergen, Norway. Bruce Stuart is a philosopher with a degree in American Studies who currently lives in Bergen, Norway and is working as a writing consultant for the Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law, NHH. Lars Jacob Tynes Pedersen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law at NHH, Bergen, Norway where he teaches accounting ethics, business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

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