Economics and the environment: A "land ethic" critique of economic policy [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 33 (1):51 - 57 (2001)
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Abstract

This paper is a twenty-five year retrospective on the development of environmental consciousness in the US The Clean Air Act is taken as proxy for companion measures in water and other areas of the environment, and the emphasis on "efficiency" and "market compatibility" is noted with a mixture of caution and hope. The work of an eminent pragmatic ethicist, Ado Leopard, is re-visited. From the pages of A Sand County Almanac, his notion that right and wrong, good and bad, be assessed in terms of the tendency to produce or preserve "the integrity, beauty, and stability of the biotic community" is explicitly adopted. Leopold''s ethical consciousness raises a question: what reasons do we have to believe that an efficient, booming economy can be made compatible with a finite natural system? Are there boundaries that the economy must respect, or can we "out run" those limits with our technology and expertise?

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