Ethical Theory

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Managerial Auditing Journal
Emerald Article: On ethical theory in auditing Lutz Preuss

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To cite this document: Lutz Preuss, (1998),"On ethical theory in auditing", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 13 Iss: 9 pp. 500 508 Permanent link to this document: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02686909810245910 Downloaded on: 25-11-2012 References: This document contains references to 47 other documents Citations: This document has been cited by 2 other documents To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.com This document has been downloaded 2432 times since 2005. *

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On ethical theory in auditing

Lutz Preuss Lecturer, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

This article discusses ways of giving support to auditors in addressing moral dilemmas. Codes of Ethics are very important in this context but are in the final analysis insufficient devices, because their necessarily generalised form has to be translated into the specific situation and thus requires acceptance rather than merely adherence. Codes have to be complemented with developed ethical reasoning of accountants. Hence, individual ethical principles are discussed which have been applied to accounting in the recent literature, i.e. utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics and ethics of care. Unsurprisingly, none emerges as giving completely satisfactory solutions. Yet eclecticism can be avoided by using compound models, which combine individual principles to provide reasonably comprehensive cover of decision-making in a business context.

As in any other profession, practitioners of accounting, be they public accountants, management accountants or internal auditors, may face moral dilemmas in their work. In mapping out the field of potentially conflicting interests, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (1997, p. i), the oldest professional body in the UK, stipulates: The primary duty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is to the public. This principle determines its status as a professional body .

The ICAS (1997, p. vii) requires that:
In addition to the duties owed to the public and to his or...
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