An Aggregated Qualitative Accounting Method for Developing Justified Policies

Michèle Friend


“Qualitative accounting” is almost an oxymoron. The word ‘accounting’ includes the word ‘count’, and we cannot count qualities. More precisely, we cannot meaningfully add qualities to each other, a quality cannot be measured by a standard unit. Therefore, aggregating qualities for the purposes of accounting might sound like sleight of hand, or deceptive advertising. Fear not. The result will turn out to be quite robust, given a modicum of intelligence and sensitivity. The method is original and useful.

The structure of the paper is given by the following sections: (1) an introduction to the topic, by looking at each word in the title, (2) we look at the UN mandate which will be used as an example to illustrate the method, (3) an explanation of the Lirst part of method: working with the UN mandate, (4) the second part of the method: two orders of sensitivity used for reLlection, and why this adds to the robustness of the method (5) broadening the conceptions underlying the method and lastly (6) uses of the method for policy.


qualitative accounting; meta-statistics; policy

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