ETHICS: WHAT’S IT TO YOU? The learned discipline of ethics has been built for thousands of years upon contributions from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Immanuel Kant and William


The learned discipline of ethics has been built for thousands of years upon contributions from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Immanuel Kant and William James to name a few.  These philosophers addressed questions that remain relevant today: What is the importance of the individual? What are the responsibilities of the individual? How should we treat each other?  What is the basis for governance? What are the limits of external authority?

In addressing these questions, students of ethics seek to discover, both by observation and inspiration, an internally consistent set of assumptions from which logical reasoning could provide conclusions with personal implications for human behavior.  This is essentially the same process CPAs and accountants are asked to follow today in ethical reasoning.  It is similar to the intellectual processes by which CPAs and accountants determine their actions and advice which will add real value for their clients and/or employers.

Consider the following as you prepare your paper? 

  • What is your credo?
  • What qualifies as an ethical issue?
  • What is right?
  • How do we know?
  • What motivates us to do right?
  • Is it rational to ask these questions in the context of accounting practice?
  • Does every decision involve an ethical dilemma?
  • Do absolute ethical standards exist?


Write a one- two page typed, 1.50 spaced paper (MLA format) on what ethics means to you and what has had influence over your ethical values. consider each of the above questions when preparing your paper. While you do not need to answer each question specifically in your paper, thoughtful consideration and reflection will touch on a number of these from your perspective.    Consider using a model similar to the five point essay. Be concise, clear and articulate. Remember though this is not a stream of consciousness writing assignment (or personal reflection completely). I trust you will back up your assertions perhaps by invoking some of the theory or others to support your conclusions and assertions.

As part of your assignment, review the five ethical standards from the Santa Clara University Markkula Center at (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Applying these standards specifically address the following in your paper:

Which approach best identifies with your personal ethical underpinnings?


Does that approach make it easier or more difficult to meet the ethical requirements of a CPA?


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