It has long been argued that double-entry bookkeeping (DEB) was important for enabling capitalism's development in the West and heralded the beginning of “modern accounting.” However, these claims remain contested so it is important to understand the history of DEB's emergence about 700 years ago and its underlying rationale. Sangster (2018a) argues that, in the first printed manual on DEB in 1494, Pacioli presented a novel “axiomatic” approach to explaining DEB that requires a corresponding “paradigmatic shift” in our appreciation of his contribution. This paper challenges Sangster's interpretation of Pacioli's mathematical contribution and calls for deeper understanding of the historical development of DEB in the West by comparison with accounting developments in the East.

Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources cited in the text.

JEL Classifications: B11; C00; M40; P52; Z1.

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