Principles and rules: the open question argument and normative imperatives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 'rules vs. principles' debate reappearing in the accounting literature has parallels in many disciplines and thematic links to many more. The purpose of this paper is to consider some of these links and to suggest an explanatory taxonomy based on the 'open question argument' drawn from analytic philosophy and some distinctions made by algorithmic theorists. This framework helps to explain some empirical findings and, perhaps, lends credibility to professional preconceptions (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, 2006).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-326
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Critical Accounting
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • rules
  • principles
  • regulation
  • financial reporting
  • standard setting
  • analytic philosophy
  • jurisprudence
  • algorithmics
  • language
  • truth
  • open question argument
  • paradox
  • Wittgenstein
  • normative imperatives


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