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Metaphysics, Methodology and Theory in Classical Accounting Thought

Rutherford, Brian A. (2019) Metaphysics, Methodology and Theory in Classical Accounting Thought. Meditari Accountancy Research, 27 (3). pp. 416-447. ISSN 2049-372X. (doi:10.1108/MEDAR-06-2018-0358) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:74558)

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Purpose – The received wisdom on classical accounting thought is that its early stages were methodologically vacuous while, in its “golden” age, it espoused the methods and philosophical commitments of received-view hypothetico-deductivism but actually remained methodologically incoherent. This paper argues, to the contrary, that classical accounting thought possesses a coherent constitutional structure that qualifies as a methodology and unifies it as a body of argument.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on Cartwright’s metaphysical nomological pluralism, which holds that we should attend to the actual practices of successful inquiry and the methodologies and metaphysical presuppositions that support it.

Findings – The paper argues that accounting does achieve disciplinary success and that classical accounting thought, employing the methodology of defeasible postulationism, provides the theoretical infrastructure that supports that success. The accounting domain is a world of “dappled realism”, in which theories are useful in the construction of reporting schemes and inform our understanding of the nature of the domain.

Research limitations/implications – Applying metaphysical nomological pluralism rescues classical accounting thought from the charge of methodological incoherence and metaphysical naivety.

Originality/value – The paper justifies a place for classical accounting theorising in the endeavours of modern accounting scholarship and moves the analysis of classical accounting thought within a philosophy of science framework towards an approach with a contemporary resonance.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/MEDAR-06-2018-0358
Uncontrolled keywords: Accounting theory, classical accounting thought, defeasible postulationism, metaphysical nomological pluralism, metaphysics, methodology.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
Depositing User: Brian Rutherford
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2019 17:14 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2022 22:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Rutherford, Brian A..

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