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The paper focuses on the question of the extent to which individual preference-based values are suitable in guiding environmental policy and damage assessment decisions…
The paper focuses on the question of the extent to which individual preference-based values are suitable in guiding environmental policy and damage assessment decisions. Three criteria for “suitableness” are reviewed: conceptual, moral and legal. Their discussion suggests that: (i) the concept of economic value as applied to environmental resources is a meaningful concept based on the notion of trade-off; (ii) the limitations of the moral foundations of cost-benefit analysis do not invalidate its use as a procedure for guiding environmental decision making; (iii) the input of individual preferences into damage assessment is compatible with the basic foundations of tort law; (iv) using individual preference-based methods provides incentives for efficient levels of due care; (v) determining standing is still very contentious for various categories of users as well as for aggregating non-use values. Overall, the discussion suggests that the use of preference-based approaches in both the policy and legal arenas is warranted provided that they are accurately applied, their limitations are openly acknowledged and they assume an information-providing rather than a determinative role.
Economists have generally framed the question of welfare in terms of wealth creation and distribution. More recently this conception of welfare has been challenged by…
Economists have generally framed the question of welfare in terms of wealth creation and distribution. More recently this conception of welfare has been challenged by concerns for the unsustainability of expanding material wealth. Sustainability thus requires the expansions of welfare considerations to include the limits posed by the biophysical world within which all economic activity takes place. This paper pursues the question how the concept of ethics generally accepted and operative in mainline economics influences our understanding of sustainability. The question pursued is whether this concept of ethics can lead to sustainability or whether other ethical concepts are necessary to achieve a more compatible relationship between economic activity and sustainability? To pursue this question three ethical concepts are discussed: utilitarian ethic, discursive ethic, and the ethic of care. In each case the question is raised whether the ethical concept under consideration contributes to or undermines sustainability. The conclusion reached in this paper is that a utilitarian ethic leads to a perception of the links between economic activity and environmental context which is not likely to yield sustainable outcomes beyond an economically defined notion of sustainability. Discursive ethic and ethic of care have important contributions to make to redefining concept and implementation of broader sustainability goals.