In defense of environmental economics

Environmental Ethics 9 (1):73-85 (1987)
Abstract
The appropriateness of economic valuations of the natural environment is defended on the basis of an objective analysis of individuals’ preferences. The egoistic model of “economic man” substantiates economic valuations of instrumental values even when markets do not exist and when consumption and use are not involved. However, “altruistic man’s” genuine commitment to the well-being of others, particularly wildlife and future generations, challenges economic valuations at a fundamental level. In this case, self-interest and an indifference between states of the world are secondary and undefined respectively, since preferences are not based on tradeoffs between the welfare of others and self. The appropriateness of economic valuations rests solely with the empirical validity of the assumptions that give rise to economic man
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