Justice and justification in accounting

Li, Yingru (2018) Justice and justification in accounting. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3313285


We are living in a society in which we are all connected in one way or another; bound together in social cooperation. This thesis is primarily concerned with the terms of our cooperation and with how accounting can contribute to the justice, as fairness, of those terms. Accounting practice, and the principles that shape it, make a significant contribution to the regulation of our social relations, in the business sphere and beyond, by dictating what information should be collected and what is to be disclosed in corporate reports and how; who is to give and who is entitled to receive accounts and of what. Such reports contribute to the governance of society by providing information on which action can be taken, and by having inductive effects on the behaviour of managers and others. I maintain therefore, that accounting, has the potential to help support the development of a more just society and, a fairer system of social cooperation. This is a potential that I hope this thesis can play a part, albeit an entirely theoretical part, in helping to bring to realisation.
I turn to the work of the political philosopher John Rawls to guide my consideration of justice in accounting. I use what I see as three stages in the development of Rawls thought as a framework for my analysis. The thesis is therefore divided into three main parts: Firstly, his seminal formulation A Theory of Justice Rawls develops to approach justice and justification; Secondly, the development of his thinking designed to accommodate his recognition of the implications of reasonable pluralism leading to the development of Political Liberalism, and a political conception of justice; Thirdly, the late development of Rawls thinking in response to critique, and in particular his engagement with the critical perspective of Jürgen Habermas, and his turn to a more discursive interpretations of his position.
I find, and show, that Rawls provides us with tools that we can use to improve our thinking about justice in accounting. The potential of these tools including the method of reflective equilibrium and the device of the original position has been relatively neglected; I show that given a discursive reading these ideas can and should have an important place in critical accounting thinking. I find that strong, but thin, moral foundations are vital to our justification of concepts of justice and to critique, and I show that we can have such foundations without lapsing into traditional metaphysics. I find that following Rawls in this exploration of justice opens a new perspective on accountability, as justification and a practice of equality. He offers us ways to think about justice in accounting that are better than the utilitarian and intuitionist traditions that have held accounting practice thinking about a fair accounting in their conceptual grip; better justified and better able to account for our considered judgements.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Justice, justification, accounting, fairness, critical accounting, John Rawls.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Supervisor's Name: McKernan, Professor John
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: YINGRU LI
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-9001
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 May 2018 15:17
Last Modified: 28 May 2021 09:01
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/9001

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