Interview: Accounting Ethics

Click to buyRon Duska

We recently had a chance to chat with Ronald Duska who recently retired from The American College.  Ron is currently an adjunct at the American College, as well as an adjunct at St. Joseph’s University, and principal of Duska Business Ethics Consulting. Along with Brenda Shay Duska (Del Pizzo & Associates, USA) and Julie Anne Ragatz (The American College Center for Ethics in Financial Services, USA), Ron is author of Accounting Ethics, recently published in a second edition. The book deals with, among other things, the recent financial crises, the nature of corruption and greed, and the responsibility that accountants should feel for the general public. Given the financial meltdown of 2008, and the new challenges to GAAP from IFERS and Mark to Market accounting, a new edition, that went beyond the concerns created by the Enron and Arthur Anderson collapse and the passage of Sarbanes/Oxley, of the early years of the millennium, seemed essential.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Accounting Ethics?

Ron Duska: It was in response to a request of the series editors, particularly Michael Hoffman who, knowing my interest in business ethics and the fact that my wife was a CPA, thought it might be a project of interest to me.

PE: What’s the central concern of the book, and why is it important?

RD: The central concern of the book is to analyse what the societal purpose of accounting is Continue reading “Interview: Accounting Ethics”

Assassination, Citizenship, and the Limits of Political Authority

We are perhaps more familiar with public figures being assassinated by private citizens than with private citizens being assassinated by states. But two weeks ago, it was reported that the Obama Administration has approved and implemented a policy whereby American citizens can be made the targets of assassination by their own government. Although it initially received some attention in the media, including harsh criticism from the likes of Glen Greenwald (see Greenwald’s take here), the American public was nonplussed, and the story has since disappeared from the headlines. Nonetheless, the Obama Administration’s assassination policy raises a host of philosophical and ethical questions. Continue reading “Assassination, Citizenship, and the Limits of Political Authority”

What is to be understood about war!?

In a times on- line article from today, General Sir Richard Dannat claims that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has not understood until fairly recently the significance of the war in Afghanistan. The article states that the General was critical of how the Government had handled war-related questions, like equipment-shortages and other failed forms of financial backing. As irritating as this criticism might seem, it is not as unflattering for Gordon Brown as it migth sound. I can understand that Gordon Brown cannot understand the war. Who ever really does? Theoretically, it is sensible to free Afghanistan of the Taliban. But for many people it is not really logical that so many soldiers are killed. And it is not clear why? For democracy? A greater good? A humanitarian ideal of freedom? Since the war started in 2001, the “why?” question has become manifold and more and more complicated to answer. The wikipedia definition of war is that it is a “reciprocated, armed conflict between two or more non-congruous entities, aimed at reorganizing a subjectively designed, geo-politically desired result.” A definition that probably helps neither Gordon  Brown nor us. War is not a logical behaviour. As much as war historians are trying to argue its logic. Plato’s ideal state was based on the Good. And the beautiful. Not on war and conflict. No wonder Gordon Brown does not understand the sense in war. Neither do most of us. In Antiquity or today.

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Sex Offenders and the Law

AmberalertlogoJaycee Dugard was only eleven years old when she was kidnapped, raped, and subsequently held captive by a previously convicted sex offender named Phillip Garrido. Last week, eighteen years into her captivity, Jaycee was serendipitously found and freed — along with two (of Garrido’s) children that she had given birth to while still a teenager. Despite the happy ending, the case of Jaycee Dugard suggests that sex offender registries are simply not enough to ensure that children are protected from those who would do them harm: Garrido had been on such a registry at the time of Jaycee’s kidnapping and throughout her captivity. Consequently, as detailed in a recent NYTimes article, some are making vociferous calls for more stringent laws on crimes that involve the sexual exploitation of children.

What determines whether society should heed these calls depends, at least in part, on answering a variety of philosophical questions about the purpose of government and the proper scope of law more generally. For instance, any justification that one might give for adopting more stringent sex offender laws will need to assume (if not establish) three claims: (i) the government has a duty to protect the welfare of children; (ii) making sex offender laws more stringent is necessary for the government to discharge this duty; and (iii) making sex offender laws more stringent neither violates some more fundamental duty, nor requires the sacrifice of something that has greater (moral) value than the protection of those children whose welfare depends on the adoption of such laws. Although political philosophy (as a discipline) will probably not answer these questions for us, it can certainly give us guidance as we attempt to answer these questions — as we must — for ourselves.

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