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Deconstruction and the responsibilities of the accounting academic

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  • McKernan, John Francis

Abstract

This paper draws on the philosophy of Jacques Derrida to review and re-evaluate the responsibilities of the accounting community and in particular of the accounting academy. The paper begins with a brief explanation of deconstruction and implications of responsible deconstruction for truth in accounting. It is argued that Derrida's philosophy is compatible with a pragmatic approach to the pursuit of truth in accounting. In the second section of the paper the responsible, and essentially ethical, nature of deconstruction is discussed and the charge that it threatens to undermine institutions like accounting that rely of notions of truth, reasons, objectivity and disinterestedness, is rebuffed. In the third part of the paper responsibilities of the university as an institution, and accounting, are discussed drawing on some of Derrida's work on that theme, and in particular responsibility to and for reason. Derrida's analysis is applied to accounting and two competing orders of responsibility are identified and contrasted: a traditional responsibility grounded in representationalism and a new responsibility of openness to the other's demand. In the fourth part of the paper discussion of contrast and tension between types of responsibility is extended into a consideration of the relationship between moral and ethical responsibilities, in the context of accounting education. The paper concludes with reflections on the responsibilities of accounting educators.

Suggested Citation

  • McKernan, John Francis, 2011. "Deconstruction and the responsibilities of the accounting academic," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 698-713.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:crpeac:v:22:y:2011:i:7:p:698-713
    DOI: 10.1016/j.cpa.2011.01.012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    3. McKernan, John Francis, 2012. "Accountability as aporia, testimony, and gift," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 258-278.
    4. Lamberton, Geoffrey, 2015. "Accounting and happiness," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 16-30.
    5. Roberts, John & Wang, Timothy, 2019. "Faithful representation as an ‘objective mirage’: A Saussurean analysis of accounting and its participation in the financial crisis," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).

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