"Accepted, Better or Best? The Goal of Inquiry in Accounting." 1968


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"Accepted, Better or Best? The Goal of Inquiry in Accounting." 1968
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Chambers, R. J. (Raymond J.) 1917-
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Aooepted, Bettar Befy a oa o quiy4z AompAtisa

There aee to be a gap in the equipmat with wbbh a prastial
and theoretleal probln m S aouentsag ad other bnaiamw diecipliags
are approached. Evy problem, b its nature, demanded ao amne r. And
batever e samw it i uatammy olaimd by those bo ndopt it to be
th, best. Sometau the o eeasio i Im nde bweet n the olrouasetmeeow
but even wher the clata Ji not so empliitly guarded it is gmeseay
eafe to uppoe that Iftt is uimaly meIt is est in the actromtanme".
It is intmrstizg to eamlne he foundattOan oaf h Judguement as thee.

We mysw uppoae at UI am hoe by idaih ansefetts eqities are
stated and the m Aitudes y d hih they are represented in s an ited
balance sheet are the best in the oarousetemoes, at least ia the opinion
of the aceoutants ho prepared it and the auditors bo reprte an it.
We ut suppose thia othewia e we would be oomitted to a deal of the
good faith of the aoouatate a d audimtars fe we do not deO e But
we my wel question 1 meamag of "boat" and o nc
hare are my ways in hibh the amount shown for suoh assets as
inveontrie or durable coode nmy be determined. We have dealt with th
elsewhere. e sent quetisan ias how is an soountamnt to determine
isa a partIdular ease whiah of these aAay wa is the beat, and wiohh
ooiatntion of wyre is best for a given oolletimon of assets? he
queatio i noAt trivTal, for it hba been bom by different people that
the eibmtio A of me*thoda used ny, given the ear datta yield
materially different result.
We fiad it diftfiault to beletwe that ewry timae e acountant of
a gives tfi eeme to prepare its amual finm a statements he comasiously
and oaeomientiouly mkes the ahoaic or oholoes mew as for the ciroump
starnes than prevaiXln. If there were no other reason be would tend to

(1) See "Pimaial Informatio and th Seouritiem I cat", A
Sept. 19651 "A Matter of Prieiple", ,0h Aeoouti-n ReMvM, July 1966

use the ae am methods as in the previoAus year out of respect for the
rule of coaistemcy. And of course there are other reaeones. Suppose
a fim has thrOe ind of invatenoriee and three olsasese of durable
aseetas ad tat for iv-entories there are three possible methods of
valuatiomn, and three possible methoela of valung durables. There is
obviously a great a aber of possible oolmbitions of t aes assets aia
methods, all yieldiun potentially different Itome and balaeoe sheet
flamrs. It is at least hiShly laprobable that say accountant uoula
so through thi list of possible oabnatiaon in order to oboose the
bot*. But if be wIre to do so, there remts the question of the
criteria on which ihat is best my be deterv ad. there ae ofat course#
no adequate diaouasionu of possible riteria in the literature We
attopt to list saw of them.
Soam Urt
What is judged to be "beat" my be that cobiation of methods
(a) yields the hibghet of all possible net Ineoe for a given yearI
(b) yields the highest ofa all possible e rates of retu on oereholder
equity for a given year;
(o) yields the met realistic anoon figure, regrdles of the effect
atof its calclaton on the amount of balame shoot itema
(d) yields he most oomservatie dication of results and position
at any timo
(e) yields a met IAoma figure wdich is oaiste0*t with s9a~ pr coin eive
rate of Sowtmh in et income over a period at years
(f) yields the least variable rate of net Inam to shareholders
equity over a period of years
(g) yielded the most realistic Iamose statement d balance aset at
W time (azd, 0trefore, aleo over a period of years)I
(h) is the B.ot widely accepted in eral, or in the firals Liae of

(i) is the least 13.lly to give rwle to objections or qualified
reports on the part of auditarm
(a) is th easiest to justify (**s* booause it is the casbliation ued
hazre ay be other oriterla. But each of the above is a possible
criterlonI that ia to says t e io in traditional literature and praotce
some warrant for each. Given the variety of methods available for valuing
iuventories, for ohargixg for deprooiatlm for deforrJig and anticipatiag
ooats and roemes for joking adjustimets to asset values directly rather
t~tn trou the I eom aoount, and so xon every ono of theae criteria
will yield a different met of fmacnial statemata. sore of these
criteria will yield statement eo which how results in the most favourable
way in the short zrun3 m will ahow roults hish seom Sore favourable
AhnD taken n series; om will shadow results which are favouwnble to
abareholer aious to soll; some have nothinM to do with bow favourable
the results appear to be, being based on otbhr ideas altogether (ong.,
h, I and j).
Mhe move listing of these criteria owuld expain th absence at
OW armateis, in the literature, of the gwroude un dAich an oeoutnt
uay decide 4a3t is beat. It there are so mgr posabile aim all potent-
Sallyn confllt, nothing sensible could be said ich would barpenm
aad foou the "judgemt".
MWt in as C0smmiames
But we have not yet headed "tho oou" Even it ware
is ano "beet", perhape there is a rule for dioaovertwag bat in "boet In
te oirowuantanoes".
Aasin we we at a loss. Mhat cwrounitanmes? Waho oirouAetaesa?
If a fir hbo reported a eOrs of ha y astisfastory profit e n past
years, do thae oirunatees warrant the hole of aetoda in azr current
year a iah will ainxtein the level, or the ohle ot method. Which will
serve to temper the xeopotattaa aoareholdre? If a tim is approaohiag

a position in which it any have to sook additioml fS no do tho
cirouwteanoes marrnt the choice of methods yielding reulto which will
eas aom the possibility of r eaiin now funds? If a firz bas had dificul-
ties in eonvinainZ ito auditors of the propriety of aom valuation rules
it adopted in the previous year, do tho circumstmaoo warrant the cholae
of method which will oause no li e trouble in the current yoar?
Perhaps we havo construed "ofraomateO too widely* We are tolds
"t*e ajor objective in aele]otig a method invontorWy priaoz Ohould
be to chooeoo the one oh, under the oa toumt eo zt clearly refloote
periodic iamOc(2) !Th statement io followed by oth=a which iaply
that the controlling oiwcumbtanomes rmaq 4 the typical physical flows of
imentoie ("oot footarow ) of the fina oz t coon azeup prooodw e
aof retailer. These two ind o ooirouet oceo have nothing An coam=
nor do they seem in way to be nmeoasrily related to the "oloorest
reflection of periodic ioome"* IMaeed the latter phase seem to qi.ly
that accountants (or perhaps =mae=a) have aome iAntuitive sone of abat
the Inoome of a gien period should be and re, in eff oot being aimor
Itod to choose a thod hieh will yield a result constant with their
The andliah reonoandations aro W more helpful. "aouataes
vwy so widely that no on. be at of arrivine at the amot Lor an imenutaj
in auitble for all typo t buaiam n or even for all undertakine.
within a particular trade or industry* *... .Thoe Iethod rot llooatiag ovezeam
oxpMiture to i5entoarft elected by the tan om@oat....a9t have raer
to tho nature sand iroutaaoes af the buaminoo so as to enue that the
trodn of the tradi raosulte will be abomn fairly*1 (3)

(2) Amerion Istituto of Certitfied Public Aecounta-ta, A--ag
oateMOh aM brainolQ a Bulletia. Pima editiona, Noew York 1961. p.29
(3) Mhe Institute of Chartered Aeoountants in -Inglam nd Wales.
it t1om. .n Agou ft Ma daoiloe. N22. 1960, para.. 1, 8.

By nd large it soma that there is no 4scoverable conent of
the phrae "beet in the routaceseI or perhaps that its eoatant is
so divere and axtuosive that it is mma-sinee a a 9ie to pra~otie,
he are too aorollares of tSda a iUSioa.
Commertmn And W at a gmetatten DlOWrto*
he first Is that, notathstaoding the opoeoiftiolty of saiso rules
e my o ae am be ovrsiddTen btc judomnts about "the ciroumatanoce".
fw total eafeet to umnrelable. We cannot read oa sot of fimanmial
statements eand comp~o utat we deduo fro it with wat wc deduce fico
another setl for we have no B odeage of the cotinget otlcunMtaxneos
whish ay have rendered the wo seto noomiatenmto This observatica
wo will only =akes however, if we rooline that the products of accounti A
proceoesos boooc part of the pool of :ianmial information available to
all Investoro and fInaenciero that the Satcm-nts af aW o s ne fta ay be,
and couxnly will bo, coparod with thoco of another or otheral and tbat
the only legituat foundation fr such coz xrioans is that the stataemat
wero prepared aocordizn to camon rules. The alternative, and unoru eatmly
the provalont, view ie that eeah fir-e is permitted to reprcont it nlf In
its owa peculiar my, to Sivo word and nudbei its on peculiar ieanagies
as if its stteomnt had nothing to do with other peran or stitatSn.
3uch a perisamive aocountg to at least btnal, at the iorst quite
ioachievouss for it denies the right to be intfoem4d In iLn
toms, which legalation and regulations for the protection of ixmestors,
creditors snd tninawmio haeo sought to secure. Secret resrrves havb for
som tiae been froed upon. But the time is not yet present ben users
of aooou tisn statements my take them as other than ma oew written in
a private oode.
The aecd coralory of our conaoluion io that to perpetuate the
useo the dAimuselan anm the teach1ag of diveree valuation rules, haioh
say be takan up, or dropped aecardig to "ctrcu stan es", Is to doey that
there is a reasoned baois for acoountin at all. The justificatio of the

dialeetto of 3ry field of practical consoquseo is that it yields
pratically useful devices or results. If the dovioes are liadiatla,
as aeooomUtag stomants aGreg to be practically useful at ar time the
aabolS used nast have tbhe se epio f lotance a equivalent sgbol. used
in aO other diocourse at the sm time. !as 8100,000 appoweing opposite
the caption "oaah" in the balamoe sheet of A Coepazr should mean the ease
thing as $100,000 appearing opposite the caption "plant" in the sam
balance sheet, the sm aea 100,000 appearing opposite the caption
"maretable seowurititse" in the balance sheet (prepared to the same date)
of B Campqy, the oe e as $100,000 appealing as the belalne of the account
of aMn iaveotor with bhi bank at the cama Sino, ean the Um e as 8100,000
being the price of any parcel of sboea or real estate at the sam time.
Accounting does not presently produ&oe such reumalts that those stigniionanes
of the Bybol"S100,000"aro the eam. Only in the first and the latter
two camplea ay the numibore be properly zstohed; and then only bocaAuse
the umbers ware g the product of rules shich, through time, poxait
$100,000 to represent mixed and equivocal aanitude, mutAewr5Eetable ana
therefore aangines*
What is 1!nw
We are now alo to return to tho question sh* h is our title. If
accountina is at present undiloiplinod, hat could with advantage be put
in its place?
One oblue to this has already been givon. Itsf, in the nature of
things, aooounting iU a fOral liUeaiatic device, it main olo ans
ayabola the product of ita operation mt all be equivalent in
saipiflenae and freely nlatearpretable by taose lao Onsgae in omBrWoe,
at any given time In ordinay diaourse we do not use the sam q olas,
term or descriptions for objects having a conatameou axistence troug
tim. We speak of a three iotha o a ten year oA b a tSxty,.
five year old am. vn at different times we speak of the mass person.
What at onam time i a smpingi at another ito a tree. Yot in amounting

what iA represented as the monetary equivalent of certain kinds of
assets at the timo of their purchase is quite conmonly taken as the
monetary equivalent for years afterwards, notwithatanxdt1 material
chases in their monetary equivalents. he only monetary magnit4udes
wh ch are significant for action at any tiae are the contemporary
muootary equivalents of assets and equities at that time. There are,
of couree, esae who regard balaaoe sheets as synoptic histories of the
firms they represent, and who therefore regard historical purchase
prices as worth retaiing. But, writing of history, Santayan observed,
"Thore are may things which, as Aristotle sane, it is better not to
know than to know asmely, those things owhih do not count in controlling
the mind*a fortunes no enter into its ideal expreeion". (4) Past prices,
like other out-dated eymbole, and particularly mixtures of past pricee
paid at different dates, do not count in any present exercise directed
to the amelioration of one's state, nor nto any epresion about one s
present state.
we have therefore one constraint at least on the use of the
imagination in forai3ting accounting rules* We my not accept any rule
which is a clear violation of the notion that carte porary cash equivalents
of assets and equities are alone significant indicators of a present
fian nal state.
This principle subsumes another, which, if we were to argue foma
a different direction, could be sbomn to be a constraint in its on right.
PiFns ooaonly hold various kind of asoeto at sy tlim, subject to
various kinds of equities. We neod to ae oSate soow or all of these,
either to discover their totals or to relate ortain sub-totals (suob as
debt and equity, for example). The individual symbols for the monetary
equivalents of assets and equities must therefore be additive thy ist
represent the monetary equivalents at a given time in monetary units of

(4) George Santayam, Reason in Science. New York, Collier Books 1962 p.40

the am purovsaina po er dianan. Ao weo hee aid, this is in foot
aeoured if all monetary equivalents are cootaporzary mzatary equitalmnts.
ThSMe to a further onsotraint. In all kdde oat ezxerises
involving growth cw vea t it is fouad to be useful to disover the
rate t of hege between any two paot points. As divezre eaple, consider
a driver an a rawon oirouit, and a an near or past middle age who is
oomoered with his weight for his bealthba ask.e So, in business we are
interested in the rate at which olhreholder' equity hos roam in th
pat period at sa point of tim. the comonest and siqplest easure f
this is obtained by taking the difference between those eaures of ahre
holders' equity at the beginning and end of a period. If these meawurea
are in units of the mme purchasing power there is no problem if not,
the opening measure mst be converted to the asm diaensaon as the closJin
seaure before taking the dlfferene. Thio follows also from the priwniple
stated in the last poarsraph. We an not accept any rule, therefore,
which interferes with the representation f the bole of the change
between two points of tim in the mwo es of aarehol dera' eqit, as
those aNMaure are iven in conte p rary stateet of frimanial position
at each f those points. Por, to *te oent that we fail to represent
the whole of the change in ay one period the change in asne subsequent
period will be aiarepreeented.
There are he thee primary principles the oonte.raety of
eymbols, the additivity of meaurees and the coMpleteness of periodical
repreesntatioae. Their relationship to the usefulness of finaital
ao zmioations will be: obvious. They require only wodeot elaboratan,
by rzference to epecifiod olasees of fianoial choractoriatics at fraM s
of events and transaction, to provide a complete foundation for a
rigorous aooountcs.
They are, of course, ideals. They do not, as stated, indicate
the difficulties which may be experienced in discovering the mognitudes
and devising the modes of representation hioh they hint at. If we set
out to discover the contemporary oash equivalents (market rsoale prices)

of assets, far oxa=plo, we ill fand difficultioe in rma oeease for
there are not markte in all goods in all totatos f uoc or stages of
omqpleal.m. We iay have to seek approxiatiome to or ourroGates for
suoh primes. We may feel that the use of theoe approaxiatinm ead
uwroatos will so affect the results teat the whole prooeos iso of
doubtful value*.
Groumau of Choice
But before 4d1issiw what Ia already accepted or what is nwwly
proposed should be sure te of t grounds on which we choose It to
apparent that countless t.houaand ofat accountants have accepted and do
accept tradititnal modes of aocouotin as the beat. "Best" means
superior in all respects to ay alterative system. (Pexrppa it may bo
given o0e other Maning but we rely on tho meaning of bwhat
is "beat"). IHowsvWr unleo we know te c araoeUioti s of syatsem
than one w oamot describe that aysten as the beat* We can only describe
it as sy atomg or perhaps we oan call it the "accepted" ayten without
mau Implication that t Is the best. In an ocase the use of "beat"
ratea the whole question of how or whether we can mike azy abeolute
judgeoent of the kind "superior in all respects".
Our knaowlede is "aMt Ia" i lUmited by our capacitiee for
perception. Our ease of "what could be" is limited bW our imogut4imMs
In neither respect is our capacity so groat that we can brain under
observation oa reflection all that does exist or all that could a=at,
for the purpose atof judging at is superior in all respeots. We are
limited to comparative judeamenta to judgomnts as boteoon Abe sots of
ideas which we kuow of or which we can onsatruct; ad to judLpeImnt on
the basis of those respects which we can bring to coznsmouw attention and
which sees at tho time to be crucial. It tois doubtful wther the analyst
of asny set at idoas or the champion of any cause has beon able to marshall
all the pertinent ovideonce or argument, foar or against, at an one time.
Although man are aocuatozed to rely on Ceoneralisations of the nature of
sotentific principles and laws for lonv periods of tiog, men of science

are aeousatod to tto supersea oan a las by mre tnolulveg and
therefore better, laws. e oe sld to advance by a process of
ucoeboave apirol ~atios.) We my stately abandon the notion that
we eaa Jude which is best =ang accounting sytem, in any ultimate

ftat still leaves us with "aaceptod" and "better"o Ideally,
what In accepted at any time auld be iast is bettor than any alt matiwve
We ast however distinuaiah between what io logically bettor and what
is psychologically better. What became accepted does not always beooca
widely acoepteod on logical rounds. We have to reckca with habit# lSmrting
group solidarity and group idootrination, If we are to discover sy soam
preotiooe persist and preoad. Non-logical and illogaie practices will
prasist to te extent that praotitioncre (and teachers) conce.m themoslvee
more with personal-social question than with logical or ocicntifi
queotionsm. But hatevcr the grounds ny hav been for accptinmG one
system, we are entitled to ask whether that aysteo in logicc2y better
than any alternative for whatever io logically the bettor we may expect
will, in due course, come to be accepted and enerally endorsed as the
TraditioanAl Ruloo and Sam Altoatives
How duoo traditional accouatinc comp-ro, then, with th few
pri iipleso n vhich vm have said a profLo~ble oystcm abould bo based?
It aatisfies. one o those prinxiples accept to a very modest axtiot.
Cah, receivableo and poyables are the only balance aheet items whioh
are represented in c-nte-poryr symbaols the aasurea of the several
assets are anot additivoa and the logginsg ofat the effects of eae tranem-
acttoz and events, and the disreard of chongos in the purchaine power
of money, result in iAnooqplate reproontations of periodical ohanoe.
In gwneral, amy ohaeg in asr particular accounting or vuaton
practiUe which ncroeaes the cont amrty of the result with the stated

(5) A. d'Abr1o, he Evolution f Scientific aflor. New Yoc. Dover
Pubijoationo lo., 1950, pp. 384-5.


priaoiplss will yied a better aeountmwa. An obvious ah oue orf ts Ia
would be the use of a beVt aelias prioe tow metat (quoted) seourmitse
hold as aesets, lastead of V oaempy used IettWl puWahnae rwise Of
a different ktad would be the use, ai respect of real estate oat valuations
mde, 21 ependently of partioular asetoldters, for ratWic or tawisg
purposes. Objeotias to ar such muae tion ommonly take the form tVat
these are not necessarily "true" values of the asoaet In question. his
kind of objection is, however, purely defensive or escapist. What we
need to know Is som thnia approaobg a current aket priee. It to
notable that those who refer to truen value* aie no attempt to state
hat Is "true" in the ostet. In practictal attffairs we accept so true
thoee propoeltuo on Iioh we can place create rellace than other
propoeittlac about the eme object. In the first place we would regard
a prIce or value dotermld Snaependtly of the oner of the object as
mo reliable tha amg statacrAnt ho hioelf makea about the value of Ie
object. And, aooondly, we would regard a priee or value d-te1m, nd more
recently than the date of initial pur~has as aoe reliable at OaW
subsequent date than the Initial puWhosae prie. te aket pri esa o
ratable value we have sugeostod my be appramtins only; but UaV
are a ppro atioe to eosethig cgntempogaryz and for all protioal
purpose. theyv oo better than emot but no loncor rolevant magaitde.
The pointo we have sought to ootablioh ewe that wt iV at MoW
tiaU generally accepted mey be so accepted on grounte wbih have little
to do with toohloal tunattiau and ooonstraintel tt we can sever or
abat is beat in any ultimate nemo| and that we oan mk progress aWmy
by choosing the better, as betweo any two o more cowoetIar @aralisft
ions or system, and ohooeias on groun whIch nerge from the Oharacer
of the subject matter rather than grounds which are peraoaal-eosal
(i.e. VmreO peof ees for "an eay life*, for "atatue" or for a y
esimlar persom. goal).
It should be clear that the style of thinking we have ouggeotd
aM the eand preoduots we have sketcbed would elimiate alamoet all atof o


posesble criteria at choale Wbah we outl1ed in an eerliar aeotiLa
y the criterion (S) reale. All th rest entail the oxeroiae, as
ooca son arises, at parti aular judgemnt about peripheral oir tanoee
judIgea1at Wbioh entail a klmo4.. of the divorce lma e iato
setttlB at mnmaer, Iurostora auditors and the Io uah no o ou tant
oan seriouely pretend to hame. We Just avnaot antaopatoe hat aW
reeotpMat any pieOe, or amg oollootimn, atf Ifo'mtion will do with it.
The only seible thWag to do then is to give that ino atinm uIbih is
Oon readily intrpretable ad mre pertinent to aotlim at any Utmae then
aMy alternative lfrantion. We noed not ask v*o teart r ill use
its and howl it is pointless to ask tbese qutiom, for we oan ive no
aamge to theu. If we seek ontporary information and aook to state
it in nderatndablo te='o, a substantial part of the body of diverse
rules now tolerated would be ellioat od an accounting would talm on the
aoppOetrae of a rea oned dislcpline, rather thmn its present appearance
of unWystemtic -ozry.
In koopinri with the geccral spirit of those obeArvations we do
not htld that the throc principles woe heo ctatod are the zspa suial.
te aro content to cay they are crumiall and that the asyoto of aseountaing
hicah showe the gcator respect for thua In to be prof'rred to all other
actual or potential system. Tere are other primiplea in addition to
thase which we have tried to set do=n in Aocou W4. valai ad
r donadi Be8Haior. / But we do not conted that cmen this mre elaborate
statoent iD exbhautiva, or final. oWe are content to say that OWy spatea
of accounting thought or prsactie in to be prcforred if it oatisfiU a a
greater number of principles, or a given =mbor to a Zreater omtat, thanU
eas alternative syteam.
I nho se ar.t Mi -t heai
A professionally alort body of apeciali4ts omy aot, if it valew
integrity, persist in auapeing judeomant on mttera atich are attain ite

(6) Pre tieo-all Ins., 1966


oampeteme. Protestinaml bodht have aom that they ame thiep otar-
WIS w would not have at Ruad the attempt they have made to stat h dat
io pezriisibol. But theso seatemots on ran nat are stll full
of contitting altmrnmtAve egah one ot dahoto o evidoac of tVo
auspeaien of 3ulgement. It oOe owe eOpOWibility it is to nko
s of what is better retuae to do so, they leave the mutoue
entirely in the hand of other sho beomwas tbey a taeohe nMl3y untraaed
are taohnially ianocpeteut to judge. As erpl_"tiqn of this auaapenion
of Jusgemant tre are two possibilitieao
The first Is the bolesf that no Juie~mnt ahould be ude until the
"beat" solution Ixb been dlcovered. We bave already a~dc t point that
wbat io ultiately the beat oan be of no help to us nw it we havo at
yet discovered it. But there Is a further point. In tbo haitory of
scioaoe and teohuolo2y it is a a 1 noe tbat orly by the riztrou. use
of mhat at cny tUm io better than alt ratives doea the ont proemt
in principle or tcohique beooma visibls .7) While over accUmtiUe doe
not co ato rigioroualy with a given set of idoas however iapfi tootf
while ever it parti4t the uas of rule whih wre divergent i affect, it
will ot be able to tmrow up evidemo of its daefoctl tar the oevidnse at
thoe red Tar iproveaat will be confused r the diversity aof t rules
(ad of their effect. It will be mposable to tak advantage of the
zmodo of Growth which sea= to be the ommo miode in otber teni lojdA*.
be otbhar possible explantion of the uapnstioa of judgment Is
that comfaort is tajknproedent, In wat has booeen accepted In the past.
Ift of course, am had been content to live iy this idea we Aould till
be pedeatriana or;sxre recently, still drivers of hoasa and buegie.
It Is indood ouria what we are prepared to "accept". If a pramtiae
were gq -ca)y accepted, we may still haove the adrvanbte aemtioned in the
previous poroagraph. But, if the poottios which are entitled to be caled
"goanorally accepted" are those which are catalogued ia the norlee

(7) ami=s Ji kuhkn UeO 3truoture ct ace AtifiS avklutione Chisa"o
University of ;hioawo !ress, 1962. Cbh. VI, VII.

Accountig create and Wooheniq ese puitahb d tar the American Institutes
it in olewr that may praeties Woh are adopted by ony a few
cqmpanis would qualify as gonzrally aocepteod. ideed, it eaows that
a ooq~a0p could adopt a prooedure b iah me "diatintly peculiar to
itself" and still be maid to be followi:e "aeneraly accepted aooouUnti
prinaiple (a)
aie las1 oited intance y open Grouod for debate about wekthewr
in faot judeot as beon auspemdAd. Suppose wo wQ to too as a
generally accepted aoouting prinmple that "dop ieoation In to be
provldod for". It mzy then be aid that an method of mkinj tho proviso
would be oonslatent with theis priWolple. But it is not prmissible to
say that aOy euch mthod Is co@elgtent with mnerallJy aooepted counting
primiplea if thee are More priaoples tha th am just ntioned.
Any particular thod mat be oomanstont itaultnmuWaly with q the
piimiplos wtchU boo on it, not just owe. his is the point at Wbich
judasent is auspuWaod. And largely, it mBy be supposed, boosuoe the
praniples to be .Ltted are seen as isolated, not as a self-oomlatent
aMMUi of requixrmito. In other words it has not been underetood as
mWooaary that aoountana prinipleoa (the baoos ideas) should be virUe
as a natorw or croren tWouh which no speo lUa ru or procedure ay
paos to aoceptanoo which does not met all the testa which tt body CC
priacipleo im4pse0. Lkting this canooption, meAh wQWk on aooounting
has not even attemptd the arderiG ofa ideas so that they do in fact
constitute a Gslf-sonu0stent vasat.*
Perhaps progree to thia point will be allow. But there i no good
reason wty reduction in the variety of "ameepted" rules and zotbod should
not proceed at a eater pace than is proseenty notlaeablJo Por even on
the beams of the few primaIples we have mntioMd, there are e ON rules
whioh are clearly better than otiea, md the "othwre" abould yiald to
vhat are the better.

(a) Tho lia seoa first to have beon put ftorord Ia 1947 in
Aoooied Audita~~ Stadai (An-arlan Institute Atooutant)| itsn
paratatemne in evident from e.g., Paul Grady, tM of QUngra&
Aeoopted Aooountin PriaeiplAes for Busineas E0terprisoea (Nw Texk A.I.CJ.A.,
19%5 pp.51-3 ______