This paper presents a systematic discussion, mainly for non-economists, on economic approaches to the concept of sustainable development. As a first step, the concept of sustainability is extensively discussed. As a second step, the argument that it is not possible to consider sustainability only from an economic or ecological point of view is defended; issues such as economic-ecological integration, inter-generational and intra-generational equity are considered of fundamental importance. Two different economic approaches to environmental issues, i.e. neo-classical environmental (...) class='Hi'>economics and ecological economics, are compared. Some key differences such as weak versus strong sustainability, commensurability versus incommensurability and ethical neutrality versus different values acceptance are pointed out. (shrink)
We examine the merits of neoclassical environmentaleconomics and discuss alternative approaches to it. We argue that the basic assumptions of the neoclassical approach, embodied in the indifference curve, make that model inappropriate for environmental analysis. We begin by assuming that the basic postulates of the neoclassical model hold and then argue that even this ideal state is incompatible with environmental sustainability. We discuss the role of the discount rate, the exclusive emphasis on marginal choices, and (...) the assumption of perfect information. (shrink)
Environmentaleconomics is a policy science. Environmental economists, however, find that their policy recommendations are often neglected by political officials. Some of them react to this neglect by reproaching public authorities with lack of efficiency: this so-called inefficiency is considered to be a manifestation of government failure. Others propose a redefinition of environmentaleconomics in order to make it fit better with actual political objectives. After briefly outlining the case for an economic paradigm that differs (...) from conventional environmentaleconomics, I argue that an alternative paradigm demands a different interpretation of economic ‘objectivity’. I claim that economic ‘objectivity’ ultimately comes down to a non-neutral common consent within a particular community of economic scientists. This interpretation leaves room for a multiplicity of 'objective', but non-neutral economic theories. The fact that the inevitable value ideas underlying a particular theory cannot be made fully transparent, urges us to accept a different conception of the theory's political relevance. Environmental economic theory should be considered not so much a provider of political 'instruments', as of scientific 'insights'. It should not simply be considered a theory that responds to actual political objectives, but one that inspires political objectives. These two latter suggestions of mine are only preliminary recommendations, which require further conceptual analysis. (shrink)
The field of environmentaleconomics, while offering powerful tools for the diagnosis of environmental problems and the design of policy solutions to them, is unable to effectively incorporate normative concepts like justice or rights into its method of analysis, and so needs to be supplemented by a consideration of such concepts. I examine the two main schools of thought in environmentaleconomics ? the New Resource Economics and Free Market Environmentalism ? in order to (...) illustrate the shortcomings of their methods of analysis, taken on their own, and to demonstrate how a consideration of concepts like rights or justice might usefully supplement them. (shrink)
This essay examines the issue of false assumptions in models via a case study of a prominent economic model of sustainable development, wherein the assumption of an infinite future plays a central role. Two proposals are found to be helpful for this case, one based on the concept of derivational robustness and the other on understanding. Both suggest that the assumption of an infinite future, while arguably legitimate in some applications of the model, is problematic with respect to what I (...) call “Parfitian” welfare functions. This result is relevant to debates about discounting the future in economics and environmental ethics. (shrink)
In this essay I criticize the contigent valuation method in resource economics and the concepts of utility and efficiency upon which it is based. I consider an example of this method and argue that it cannot-as it pretends-substitute for public education and political deliberation.
In this paper I argue that the criterion of valuation in neoclassical economics is flawed because it is not an invariant measure of value. It is invariant only when unrealistically restrictive conditions are imposed on the class of admissible utility functions, which in fact makes it a special case. The only sensible alternative is to turn to classical value theory based on real sacrifices or opportunity costs.
Four dogmas have shaped modern neoclassical economics. The first proposes that markets may fail to allocate resources efficiently, that is, to those willing to pay the most for them. The second asserts that choices, particularly within markets, reveal preferences. The third is the assumption that people always make the choices they expect will benefit them or enhance their welfare. The fourth dogma holds that perfectly competitive markets will allocate resources to their most beneficial uses. This is the doctrine of (...) the invisible hand. I argue that these dogmas of applied welfare economics should be abandoned. One consequence of doing so will be an increased interest in the institutional context of production. A second will be a turn toward empiricism. (shrink)
In this essay I criticize the contigent valuation method in resource economics and the concepts of utility and efficiency upon which it is based. I consider an example of this method and argue that it cannot-as it pretends-substitute for public education and political deliberation.
Neither environmentaleconomics nor environmental philosophy have adequately examined the moral implications of imposing environmental degradation and ecosystem instability upon our descendants. A neglected aspect of these problems is the supposed extent of the burden that the current generation is placing on future generations. The standard economic position on discounting implies an ethicaljudgment concerning future generations. If intergenerational obligations exist, then two types of intergenerational transfer must be considered: basic distributional transfers and compensatory transfers. Basic transfers (...) have been the central intergenerational concern of both environmentaleconomics and philosophy, but compensatory transfers emphasize obligations of a kind often disregarded. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
There has always been a sub-group of established economists trying to convey an environmental critique of the mainstream. This paper traces their thinking into the late 20th century via the development of associations and journals in the USA and Europe. There is clearly a divergence between the conformity to neo-classical economics favoured by resource and environmental economists and the acceptance of more radical critiques apparent in ecological economics. Thus, the progressive elements of ecological economics are (...) increasingly incompatible with those practising neo-classical environmentaleconomics who try to reduce all concepts to fit within the confines of their models. A group of people can be identified who teach that ecological economics is nothing more than a name for the link between mainstream economics and ecology. A new movement and paradigm are unnecessary for such ends. This viewpoint is argued to be inconsistent with the roots and ideas of the ecological economics movement. Ecological economics is seen here to be synthesising various types of economics and moving back to explicit inclusion of ethical issues in the mode of classical political economy. This inevitably means rediscovering neglected past works and exploring new ways of thinking about socio- economics and the environment. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there is no essential inconsistency between a well-constructed free trade policy and environmental sound development. From an examination of the concept of “free trade,” I argue that “free trade” must mean “environmentally sustainable trade.” The argument is conceptual in nature. I argue that free trade must mean trade free of subsidies in which the price of a good fairly reflects the costs of its production. I then argue that environmentally unsustainable commodity trade is (...) in fact “subsidized.” Therefore, the international regulation of this trade would be consistent with the goal of free trade. Moreover, such regulation could promote both environmental conservation and the long-run interest of developing countries. However, ethical and practical considerations demand that these regulations must be structured so that they do not have a negative short-term economic impact on developing countries. A mechanism to implement this policy is suggested. (shrink)
Various complex dynamics in ecologic-economic systems are presented with an emphasis upon models of global warming dynamics and fishery dynamics. Chaotic and catastrophic dynamic patterns are shown to be possible, along with other complex dynamics arising from nonlinearities in such combined systems. Problems associated with amplified oscillations due to these nonlinear interactions in the combined interactions of human economic decisionmaking with ecological dynamics are identified and discussed. Implications for policy are examined with strong recommendations for greater emphasis in particular upon (...) the precautionary principle to avoid catastrophic collapses beyond critical thresholds and the scale-matching principle to ensure that efforts to manage complex nonlinear dynamics are directed at the appropriate levels of ecologiceconomic interaction. Key Words: complex dynamics, chaos, catastrophe, fisheries, global warming.. (shrink)
Not understanding that doing nothing can be much more preferable to doing something potentially harmful. Recent developments in cognitive science have highlighted the power that stories, metaphors, and archetypes have on human thinking. In fact, to a large extent they are our thinking. Consider the archetypal image of the young adult male hero. He is brave, active, adventurous, innovative, knowledgeable, clever, confident, independent, in control, and not constrained by family, tradition, or public opinion. He is a character that appears in (...) myths, in histories of conquest and discovery—from Odysseus to the Medusa-slayer, the.. (shrink)
The paper discusses some of the criticisms of contingent valuation (CV) and allied techniques for estimating the intensity of peoples' preferences for the environment. The weakness of orthodox utilitarian assumptions in economics concerning the commensurability of all items entering into peoples' choices is discussed. The concept of commensurability is explored as is the problem of rational choice between incommensurate alternatives. While the frequent claim that the environment has some unique moral intrinsic value is unsustainable, its preservation often raises ethical (...) and other motivations that are not commensurate with the values that people place on ordinary marketable goods. Nevertheless, CV is also claimed to have some advantages and it is concluded that little progress will be made in this area until both sides in the debate recognise what is valid in their opponents' arguments. (shrink)
A central point of debate over environmental policies concerns how future costs and benefits should be assessed. The most commonly used method for assessing the value of future costs and benefits is economic discounting. One often-cited justification for discounting is uncertainty. More specifically, it is risk aversion coupled with the expectation that future prospects are more risky. In this paper I argue that there are at least two reasons for disputing the use of risk aversion as a justification for (...) discounting when dealing with longterm decisions, one technical and one ethical. Firstly, I argue that technically, it implies an inconsistency between theory and practice. And secondly, I argue that discounting for uncertainty relies on a form of individualism which, while reasonable in standard microeconomic theory where an agent chooses how to spread her own consumption over her own lifetime, is inappropriate in the context of intergenerational social decisions. (shrink)
How can we value the environment, this is the crucial issue that this book debates. The critical analyses carried out within the book by such figures as Nick Hanley and Jonathan Aldred are vital to ensuring that future economic growth is not achieved at the expense of our environment.
In this paper we take a close look at current interdisciplinary modeling practices in the environmental sciences, and suggest that closer attention needs to be paid to the nature of scientific practices when investigating and planning interdisciplinarity. While interdisciplinarity is often portrayed as a medium of novel and transformative methodological work, current modeling strategies in the environmental sciences are conservative, avoiding methodological conflict, while confining interdisciplinary interactions to a relatively small set of pre-existing modeling frameworks and strategies (a (...) process we call crystallization). We argue that such practices can be rationalized as responses in part to cognitive constraints which restrict interdisciplinary work. We identify four salient integrative modeling strategies in environmental sciences, and argue that this crystallization, while contradicting somewhat the novel goals many have for interdisciplinarity, makes sense when considered in the light of common disciplinary practices and cognitive constraints. These results provide cause to rethink in more concrete methodological terms what interdisciplinarity amounts to, and what kinds of interdisciplinarity are obtainable in the environmental sciences and elsewhere. (shrink)
The global ecological crisis is the greatest challenge humanity has ever had to confront, and humanity is failing. The triumph of the neo-liberal agenda, together with a debauched ‘scientism’, has reduced nature and people to nothing but raw materials, instruments and consumers to be efficiently managed in a global market dominated by corporate managers, media moguls and technocrats. The arts and the humanities have been devalued, genuine science has been crippled, and the quest for autonomy and democracy undermined. The resultant (...) trajectory towards global ecological destruction appears inexorable, and neither governments nor environmental movements have significantly altered this, or indeed, seem able to. The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization is a wide-ranging and scholarly analysis of this failure. This book reframes the dynamics of the debate beyond the discourses of economics, politics and techno-science. Reviving natural philosophy to align science with the humanities, it offers the categories required to reform our modes of existence and our institutions so that we augment, rather than undermine, the life of the ecosystems of which we are part. From this philosophical foundation, the author puts forth a manifesto for transforming our culture into one which could provide an effective global environmental movement and provide the foundations for a global ecological civilization. (shrink)
This work introduces the reader to the central issues and theories in Western environmental ethics, and against this background develops a Buddhist environmental philosophy and ethics. Drawing material from original sources, there is a lucid exposition of Buddhist environmentalism, its ethics, economics and Buddhist perspectives for environmental education. The work is focused on a diagnosis of the contemporary environmental crisis and a Buddhist contribution for positive solutions. Replete with stories and illustrations from original Buddhist sources, (...) it is both informative and engaging. (shrink)
Ever wonder if it is possible to construct a numeric scale for environmental variables, like one does for the temperature? This paper is an attempt to construct one. There are two main parts: section “Statistical Analysis of Variations” presents a general statistical strategy for environmental factor selection. Section “Nonlinear Analytical Geometric Model of Variations” develops an analytical geometric representation of system variations in response to environmental changes. The model is used to quantify the effects of environmental (...) interactions. The paper treats only one-dimensional case, however, the derivation of the case of multiple independent factors follows immediately. The general method developed in this paper may prove applicable to many different fields, such as extensions beyond classical physics, economics, and other sciences. Section “Conclusion” provides an illustration of applications, examples and implications of the results. (shrink)
In this essay, my point of departure is Bernard Hodgson’s analysis of neo-classical economic theory and his demonstration that neo-classical economic thought is already a branch of normative theory. I undertake to broaden the demonstration by showing that other contemporary conceptions of economics are also irreducibly normative. The essay begins with an overview of Hodgson’s argument strategy, and a discussion of his thesis that economics is a moral science. This illustrates in what way moral presuppositions are at play (...) as core principles that both positivist and normativist economics take for granted. My strategy is to show that alternative conceptions of economics, in particular Schumpeterian accounts of evolution/innovation, and orthodox versions of ecological economics, share with classical and neo-classical economics normative assumptions about the common good, extending Hodgson’s thesis to one about moral science . For then these assumptions (both moral and scientific ) commit economics to unworkable notions of social and environmental optimization that ignore the pure historical contingency of physical, economic, social and cultural conditions. It is concluded that the relationship between facts and values must be fundamentally retheorized. (shrink)
_A Companion to Environmental Philosophy_ is a pioneering work in the burgeoning field of environmental philosophy. This ground-breaking volume contains thirty-six original articles exemplifying the rich diversity of scholarship in this field. Contains thirty-six original articles, written by international scholars. Traces the roots of environmental philosophy through the exploration of cultural traditions from around the world. Brings environmental philosophy into conversation with other fields and disciplines such as literature, economics, ecology, and law. Discusses environmental (...) problems that stimulate current debates. (shrink)
This collection of essays by Sheila Jasanoff explores how democratic governments construct public reason, that is, the forms of evidence and argument used in making state decisions accountable to citizens.
El desarrollo local desde principios de los años noventa se encuentra influenciado por una corriente sociológica que propone el replanteamiento teórico de lo que la teoría ha llamado el sector rural. La Nueva Ruralidad en su perspectiva latinoamericana ubica aspectos de cambio fundamental en el territorio rural: encadenamientos urbano-rurales, el empleo rural no agrícola, la provisión de servicios ambientales, las certificaciones agroambientales o “sellos verdes”, los pueblos como centros de servicios, el papel activo de las comunidades y organizaciones sociales, y (...) la diversidad ecológica-cultural como patrimonio (Rojas, 2008). El objetivo de este documento es mostrar que existe un debate al interior de esta corriente que ha derivado en dos modelos de desarrollo regional sustentable contrapuestos, el enfoque basado en la participación del mercado y el que aboga por la autonomía, la autogestión y la autodirección del progreso de las comunidades rurales. (shrink)
Translating environmental ethics into something that can be taught at the primary and secondary school levels may never be feasible. In addition, what needs to be taught may vary in different cultures around the world. A good noncontroversial starting point may be to begin with the values that are often listed in the purpose statements of environmental laws. Teachers could teach the history of ideas behind those values and their relationship to environmental concern. This approach is needed (...) as a counter to the value approach of modern economics which treats noneconomic values as meaningless expressions of personal emotion. Comparative value discussion can be used to clarify traditional values and in countries with indigenous populations with values originating in different histories of ideas, such as the values of the First Nation peoples in Canada and the Mapuche in Chile, which can be used to promote better understanding between major social groups. (shrink)
A rational process for assessment of environmental policy options should be based on an appreciation of how humans value nature. Increased understanding of values will also contribute to the development of appropriate ways for us to relate to and manage natural areas. Over the past two decades, environmental philosophers have examined the notion that there is an intrinsic value in nature. Economists have attempted to define and measure the market and nonmarket economic values associated with decisions concerning natural (...) areas. Psychologists have tried to assess the extent to which people believe in an intrinsic value in nature, and have also begun to work with economists to improve nonmarket valuation techniques. I briefly review the contributions made to our understanding of natural area value by environmental philosophy, psychology and economics, and develop a model that integrates insights from these disciplines. Components in the model include cognitions, held values, assigned values and various modes of value expression. I make recommendations for future validation, development and use of the model. (shrink)
Contingent valuation of the environment has proven popular amongst environmental economists in recent years and has increased the role of monetary valuation in public policy. However, the underlying economic model of human psychology fails to explain why certain types of stated behaviour are observed. Thus, good scope exists for interdisciplinary research in the area of economics and psychology with regard to environmental valuation. A critical review is presented here of some recent research by social psychologists in the (...) US attempting to explain stated behaviour in contingent valuation. Attitudinal scales have been used to analyse the role of ecocentric, biocentric and altruistic motives for giving. However, the research is shown to draw some potentially misleading conclusions and be unrepresentative of contingent valuation. Two recent economic studies using contingent valuation are then reported and shown to have identified non-economic motives for WTP. The complexity of value formation and expression is found to go far beyond that generally accepted by economic models. Greater consideration of the role played by attitudes and ethical considerations then becomes relevant to the interpretation of results being used in standard cost-benefit analysis and environmental policy. (shrink)
F. Bailey Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk: Compassion by the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s10806-012-9377-z Authors Paul B. Thompson, WK Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 503 South Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1032, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Environmental ethics continues to be dominated by an in/erential view of ethical theory, according to which moral prescriptions and proscriptions are deduced from general principles, which in turn are arrived at intuitively or by some form of induction. I argue that the inferential approach contributes litde to the pressing need which environmental philosophers have been attempting to address in recent decades-the need for a set of normative values actually in place within industrial society that will help preserve the (...) environment from human destruction. I propose an alternative view according to which the aim of environmental ethics is (1) a clear understanding of how moral norms actually come to be instituted in a given society, (2) the analysis of the practical effect of such norms from an environmental perspective, and (3) an examination of the relative desirability of alternative norms in light of their environmental effects. In pursuing this aim, environmental ethics should join forces with anthropology, economics, and other areas of social science in hopes of generatirtg a basis for empirical information about how moral norms actually operate. Such information might help persuade society at large of the importance of being guided by an environmentally sound set of normative values. (shrink)
Environmental ethics continues to be dominated by an in/erential view of ethical theory, according to which moral prescriptions and proscriptions are deduced from general principles, which in turn are arrived at intuitively or by some form of induction. I argue that the inferential approach contributes litde to the pressing need which environmental philosophers have been attempting to address in recent decades-the need for a set of normative values actually in place within industrial society that will help preserve the (...) environment from human destruction. I propose an alternative view according to which the aim of environmental ethics is a clear understanding of how moral norms actually come to be instituted in a given society, the analysis of the practical effect of such norms from an environmental perspective, and an examination of the relative desirability of alternative norms in light of their environmental effects. In pursuing this aim, environmental ethics should join forces with anthropology, economics, and other areas of social science in hopes of generatirtg a basis for empirical information about how moral norms actually operate. Such information might help persuade society at large of the importance of being guided by an environmentally sound set of normative values. (shrink)
Environmental literacy is not encouraged by discipline-based education. Discipline-based education is damaging not only because it breaks the link between experience and theory but also because it encourages learners to believe that complex practical problems can be solved using the resources of just one or two specialist disciplines or frameworks of thought. It is argued that discipline-based education has been extremely successful, and its very success is a factor which explains some of our poor thinking about environmental problems. (...) These problems are highly complex, and it is important for learners to discover the limitations of particular frameworks of thought and disciplinary approaches. This is particularly important in the case of economics. An education which emphasises the limitations of specialist approaches to complex problems can also be used to help overcome the depersonalising effect of bureaucracies. (shrink)
Jesus’ teachings on neighborliness, frugality, support for the poor, and nonviolence should become more central to Christian environmental ethics. His actionoriented teachings do not explicitly mention nature, yet should have a beneficial collateral effect on environments when practiced by Christian communities. This issue affects Christian economics, simple causality models of environmental beliefs and impacts, and “love of nature” theology.
In his book The Morality of Freedom, Joseph Raz argues that the promotion of personal autonomy can serve as a constitutive principle for a comprehensive political theory. He maintains that three conditions are necessary for attainment of individual autonomy: appropriate mental abilities, an adequate range of options, and independence. In this essay, by focusing on Raz’s conception of an adequate range of options, we suggest that Raz’s theory justifies environmental conservation in general. We present an empirical framework of present-day (...) assaults on personal autonomy, construct a heuristic scenario, and argue against both neoclassical economics and utility maximization as adequate criteria regarding environmental decisions. We conclude that successful environmental policies should directly or indirectly strive to provide the conditions necessary for promoting individual autonomy. (shrink)
The standard approach to environmental issues today is to turn to science, economics, or democratic populism as a means to resolve our environmental debates. Environmental philosophers, on the other hand, focus on the theoretical underpinnings of environmental issues, with possibly a brief reference to a specific case or example. A policy turn in environmental philosophy involves a third way, where philosophers begin from society’s own growing sense of the inadequacy of our conventional ways of (...) addressing environmental problems. (shrink)
Environmental ethics tends to be dominated by the idea that the right environmental actions require a change in the value systems of many people. I argue that the “rebirth” approach is perverse in that moral attitudes are not easily changed by moral suasion. A properly ethical approach must begin where we are, as moderately moral people desiring the best for all. The real ethical problem is to develop procedures for collectively defining environmental ends that will be fair (...) to the parties participating in the decision process. This idea is essentially utilitarian, and depends on the maximization of expected social utility. This type of environmental ethics is contrasted with current theories of social choice in welfare economics and with Rawls’ theory of justice as fairness. (shrink)
Specific legislation in Argentina followed in the wake of the 1992 Earth Summit, with increased citizen awareness and growing academic concern from various philosophical perspectives. The current lines of research of the main work groups include (a) interdisciplinary work on environmental ethics and global environmental justice focused on natural resources and ecosystems, (b) the ecologically appropriate roots of the cultural heritage of Western civilization, and (c) gestalt ontology, deep ecology, and ecosophy. The emergence of ecophilosophy has required environmental (...) education to go beyond mere ecological training to include an understanding of the philosophical implications of managing and living with concerns for the environment. Interdisciplinary research has become a steadily growing and promising field that has brought together scholars from natural science, economics, anthropology, philosophy, and social science. (shrink)