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In a booming, pioneering stage of industrial and commercial development, people would tend to enter into rather unconsidered arrangements, whose ambiguities only become apparent when things start to do very well -or very badly. One might suppose that if one approached a lawyer (then or now) with such a problem, the outcome would be an expensive lawsuit. What is wanted is a 'sensible person with a good head', who will dive into this mess, sort things out and come up with a reasonable formula for the future.

The visitor from space would report that the Anglo-Saxons have a much stranger ritual, whereby funds and obligations are said to flow between them, but frequently nothing changes hands at all ... 2 A 'SYSTEMS' VIEW OF THE WORLD However, any conclusion which implies a residual area of ignorance where magic and ritual rule, accepts that the way to approach 32 Positive Accounting knowledge is to break the universe up into small segments and then solve the problems which they contain. This is the standard Western reductionist approach, and it has proved a powerful weapon for generating robust theories to explain a wide range of problems.

But I would add a lower level to contain what appears to be the observable reality of the accounting process: Humanistic VI Machievellian This reflects the fact that 'the residual gap' cannot be filled by anything which even a pragmatist could describe as the 'nature of truth'. Sir Karl Popper says: 'The theoretician, I will assume, is essentially interested in truth, and especially in finding true theories' (88, p. 13); but what can be said about 'theoreticians' with more limited interests? Those who evaluate 'theories' against such criteria of whether they may be expected to satisfy the Board at its meeting next Thursday?

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