The other objective of ethics education: Re-humanising the accounting profession – a study of ethics education in law, engineering, medicine and accountancy [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 34 (3-4):279 - 298 (2001)
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Abstract

Recently within the critical accounting literature Funnell (1998) has argued that accounting was implicated in the Holocaust. This charge is primarily related to the technical, mathematical nature of accounting and its ability to dehumanise individuals. Broadbent (1998, see also DeMoss and McCann, 1997) has also contended that "accounting logic" excludes emotion. She suggests that a more emancipatory form of accounting could be possible if emotion were given a voice and allowed to be heard within accounting discourse (see also Kjonstad and Wilmott, 1995). This paper contends that emotion should be introduced into accounting education and in particular emotional commitment to other individuals should be encouraged. It is suggested that one way to do this may be through business ethics education. It is also suggested that increasing ethical commitment to other individuals may go some way towards combating the tendency for accountancy to dehumanise other people. While there have been specific studies of ethics and accounting education there has, as yet, been little open debate about what the objectives of accounting ethics education should be or the specific techniques that could be used to meet the desired aims. This paper contends that accountancy has become dangerously dehumanised and that one of the most important objectives for any business ethics education must be to develop an empathy with "the other". The paper studies the developments within the medical, legal and engineering profession in order to suggest some specific methods which could be employed in order to re-humanise accountancy and develop a sense of moral commitment towards other individuals.

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