The role of practical wisdom in accounting ethics education

Authored by: Steven M. Mintz , William F. Miller

The Routledge Handbook of Accounting Ethics

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138591967
eBook ISBN: 9780429490224
Adobe ISBN:


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Practical wisdom combines moral will and moral skill. Moral will is the desire to achieve the proper aims of an activity, such as to serve the public interest in accounting. Moral skill enables people to determine how to treat others in everyday life and make decisions that are right, not wrong; good, not bad. Skill without will can lead to the manipulation of others to serve one’s own interests, not theirs. Will without skill makes it more difficult to assess how one’s actions affect others. By linking Rest’s four component model of moral behavior to moral will and moral skill, we find that practical wisdom informs the elements of moral behavior by enabling decision makers to reason rightly about the proper course of action and by directing behavior toward the end goal of ethical decision making. Through practice and the experience gained in using Giving Voice to Values (GVV), we find that students sharpen their moral skills and learn how to develop moral will and can become more capable of resolving ethical issues they may encounter as accounting professionals. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of integration of Rest’s model with practical wisdom through the analysis of an ethical dilemma utilizing GVV.

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