ABSTRACT: This paper follows up on the discussion on “advising” the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) about social and economic reality. It began with Lee (2006a), was commented upon in Macintosh (2006) and Williams (2006), and closed with a reply to both papers in Lee (2006b). All three authors criticized, in one way or another, the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the fashion in which it attempts to incorporate principle‐based accounting standards into its conceptual framework (CF). The main thrust of these four papers is a critique directed toward the FASB, which has been more concerned with “comparability and consistency” than with “identifying improved ways of recognizing and representing social‐constructed reality and truthful correspondence in the light of principle‐based accounting standards” (Lee 2006a, 1). Thereby, Lee promotes Searle's (1995) theory of constructing social reality.
The primary purpose of the current paper is to show that the methodology of the “onion model of reality” (OMR, developed in Mattessich 1991, 1995, and 2003) offers several advantages over Searle's (1995) approach. Above all, the results of the OMR are less confusing and much closer to accounting terminology as well as that of everyday language (e.g., saying: “The U.S. federal debt is a social reality,” instead of the cumbersome formulation: “The U.S. federal debt is ontologically subjective”—the text discusses additional advantages of the OMR). The backbone of the OMR is the fact that each reality level is endowed with its very own emergent properties, hence with its specific kind of reality.