Auditing is intended to provide assurance not only to the recipients of accountability information such as potential investors, owners and principals, and their representatives on boards of directors (external auditing). Auditing is also meant to assure all those depending on (electronic) information inside organizations that it can be believed for actions and decisions (internal auditing). - We are dealing with cognitive relationships in a triangular setting: Accountable agents who manage capital, essential resources or (voting) power of owned by principals are critically observed and tested by auditors in their accountability relationships. As a third party, conscientious, credible, critical and diligent auditors face considerable cognitive and ethical burdens. Intellectual honesty and independence preclude uncritical acceptance of accounting reports that are prepared by those accountable to others who can regulate their behavior in various ways, including dismissing them or withdrawing their capital, resources and power.
Ethical conduct entails profound respect for the rights of others to be protected against harm, misdeeds and threats within specific organizations and societies. Cooperation requires truthful sharing of vital information in order to support the pursuit of success and
the chances of survival. The information may still be false, where actions undertaken based on it may be anything between benevolent and catastrophic; however, deliberate misleading and deceiving information not only violates the cooperative spirit and any social contracts. It also limits both our cognitive versatility to distinguish relevance from irrelevance and truth from falsity and our behavioral plasticity to adapt and to react intelligently to success and survival challenges.
As “meta-reporters” auditors have not only cognitive, intellectual and mental responsibilities but also ethical ones. It is better to admit ignorance or lack of relevant evidence than to issue ambiguous or meaningless opinions about accountabilities that cannot assure anyone of anything in particular. - Doubt, skepticism and a critical mental attitude are not “unnecessary distrust” but healthy and necessary for cognitive versatility and behavioral plasticity.
配得上頭銜與專業稱呼的稽核人員會保持猜疑的眼光、勇於懷疑會計師或他們的管理者，而非直接接受他們的說法。我們可以區分提供或尋求保障的道德信仰，與為了提供資訊所做的道德偽裝之差異。William K. Clifford在1879年曾說：「任何人在任何地方對任何事的信任，如果是建立在證據不足的基礎上，那他的信任就一定是錯誤的信任。」如果稽核人員的意見在特定的情況下要能夠被信任，那麼該意見一定要能被合理地解釋、追蹤與測試。否則，稽核人員就必須承認他們因為證據不足，而無法對特定議題做出可令人接受與信服的結論。Auditors who deserve their title and professional designation are meant to be skeptical and in pursuit of doubts about, rather than accommodating assertions by, accountants or their managers. We can differentiate between the ethics of belief for those providing or seeking assurances and the ethics of make-believe for those providing information. - Already in 1879 William K. Clifford said: It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. For audit opinions to be believ-able in specific contexts they must be logically explainable and retraceable and testable. Otherwise it behooves auditors to admit that insufficient evidence makes it impossible for them to come to acceptable and believable conclusions about specific issues.
因此，稽核倫理會被納入道德信仰中，且其隱含精準地搜尋必要的相關證據，以及思考證據是否充分、推理是否可被接受，並客觀地評估所有相關的證據。此方式適用於唯一解釋的意見，或是在許多解釋中找出最佳解釋的意見。既然我們不是處理業餘活動，而是處理能擔負責任的專業報告(其會與「真實」而非與「假設」的經濟實值做溝通。如「證券化」的負債、借款、或是房貸，都是所謂的「假設」的經濟實值)之語意真理，那麼這些稽核人員的標準就不能是模稜兩可的「公平公正」。故，稽核倫理有兩種不同的分支，分別是組織內的內部稽核倫理，以及和投資人與委託人相關的外部稽核倫理。Audit ethics is therefore subsumed by the ethics of belief and implies an unbiased search for necessary relevant evidence and the objective evaluation of all available relevant evidence with respect to sufficiency of evidential matter and acceptability of inferences drawn upon them. This applies to their opinions as singular explanations or the best explanation of multiple ones. Their criteria cannot be ambiguous “fairness” since we are not dealing with amateur sport but with the semantic truth of accountability reports as correspondence with something of “real” economic substance rather than hypothetical like “securitized” debt, loans or mortgages that are (deliberately) not transparent and understandable to any investor. - Audit ethics thus has two different branches within organizations (internal audit ethics) and outside organizations with respect to investors and principals (external audit ethics).
道德偽裝提到了經理人面對委託人時之責任擔負與職權的治理議題：(1) 建立在資訊系統透明度，與相關內控自評系統有效性上的責任擔負之關係與報告，會使經理人產生信心與信任嗎？(2) 會計與資訊處理是正確的、合乎道德的、受保護的、且可被稽核的嗎？自從會計師擔任蒐集商業相關資料(在狹義的財務會計意義上是指交易資訊；廣義的意義上是指受內控自評系統監控、橫跨不同資訊系統介面的資訊)的資料管理者以來，資料的真實性應該要使用能使目標資料得以被稽核與追蹤的後設資料，去使其透明度更加提升。會計師(與經濟學家)也同樣一直擔任模型的管理者，他們使用篩選工具與模型處理資料，為的是進行資料濃縮，好讓資訊接收者能夠接收有意義的資訊。這裡要再說一次，我們需要使用存在於內控自評系統中，適切且可被稽核的後設資訊，分別在個體與總體經濟的層面，去證明資訊的正確性與攸關性。
The ethics of make-believe refer to governance issues of accountability and authority of agents vis-a-vis principals: (1) Do the accountability relationships and reports inspire confidence and even trust in the agents based on the transparency of the information systems (IS) and the effectiveness of the corresponding internal control systems (ICS)? (2) Is the accounting and information processing correct, ethical, protected and auditable?
– Since accountants have always been and continue to be data administrators who collect economically relevant data (transactions in a narrow financial accounting sense or in a broader sense as messages across IS interfaces that are monitored by ICS), their truth must be transparent as evidenced by meta-data that make the object data auditable and retraceable. Accountants (and economists) have also been and continue to be model administrators who apply filters and models to the data in order to condense them meaningfully for the recipients of any information generated. Again, the correctness and relevance of the information would need to be evidenced by proper and auditable meta-information contained in ICS – both at micro- and macro-economic levels.
資訊系統與內控自評系統有著妥善的設計，顯然是良好的可稽核性之先決條件，它是：(1) 為了資訊接收者確保而做的一份努力，這些人平常需要接收以營運目的，而在內部產生並分享的資料和資訊；(2) 為了從外部提供給委託人與其他在私人經濟與公有制經濟 - 無論是否牽涉利益 - 中受影響者確保而做的一份努力。
The proper design of IS and ICS are evidently the pre-conditions for proper auditability as an assurance effort for (1) the recipients of internally generated and shared data and information for operational purposes and (2) for those externally provided to principals and others effected in the private or public sectors of the economy - whether managed for profit or not. - In other words: IS need to be designed truth-functionally rather than merely pragmatically functional or compliant with rules and regulations that may benefit special interest groups or individuals by keeping everyone affected by, or entitled to, knowledge (as believable information useful for intelligent and voluntary actions and
總而言之，我們希望分辨財務會計倫理與管理會計倫理，並由內部稽核人員(這些人會被他們分屬組織之市場背景中的道德信仰來約束) 負責企業營運與管理會計資訊的稽核任務、外部稽核人員(由透明化的資本市場與金融市場裡，投資者背景中的道德信仰來約束) 負責財務會計資訊的稽核任務。In summary, we may want to distinguish between financial accounting ethics and managerial accounting ethics and assign the audit of operational and managerial accounting information to internal auditors (bound by the ethics of belief in the market context of their respective organization) and that of financial accounting information to external auditors (bound by their ethics of belief in the investor context of transparent capital and money markets).
後記：反映在這裡的心智本質，以及道德議題，包含了上面討論到的道德信仰，都是James H. Fetzer在The Evolution of Intelligence (2005)一書中所研究的主題。他淵博的研究與卓越的學術地位都深切地影響了我。
Postcript: The nature of mind, which is reflected here, and of morality, including the ethics of belief, which is discussed above, are among the subjects investigated by James H. Fetzer, The Evolution of Intelligence (2005), whose profound research and exceptional scholarship has influenced me greatly.