Title

Accounting and happiness

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Lamberton, G 2015, 'Accounting and happiness', Critical perspectives on Accounting, vol. 29, pp. 16-30.

Published version available from:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cpa.2014.10.005

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

his paper begins with the observation that happiness is the primary goal of human endeavour. One critical element of human endeavour is business, leading to the proposition the primary objective of business is to contribute to happiness, with profit being a means towards this end. This central idea linking business and the pursuit of happiness is used to critique the capability of accounting to contribute to lofty objectives leading to the central question if the goal of business should be the pursuit of human happiness, can accounting contribute to this goal?

The notion of happiness is explored by comparing hedonism with Aristotle's eudaimonism, leading to a comparison between the conceptual underpinnings of eudaimonistic happiness and the Buddhist concept of nirvana. The shaky conceptual ground on which accounting is built is exposed by its opposition to the fundamental nature of reality as described by the four seals of Dharma which describe the central truths of Buddhist philosophy. The critique of accounting is performed across the seven themes of truth, time, dualism, objectivism, interconnectedness, morality and measurability. The paper concludes by identifying the equivalent philosophical assumptions which underpin both critical accounting and Buddhism, confirming the relevance of a Buddhist critique to accounting.