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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Four Dogmas of Environmental Economics

Mark Sagoff

Environmental Values 3(1994): 285-310. doi: 10.3197/096327194776679638

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.

KEYWORDS: Choices, externalities, market efficiency, preferences, welfare economics

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Welfare Economic Dogmas: A Reply to Sagoff. Richard Cookson

Plural Values and Environmental Valuation. Wilfred Beckerman and Joanna Pasek

Economic Valuation and Environmental Values. Michael Prior

The Disvalue of 'Contingent Valuation' and the Problem of the 'Expectation Gap' Laura Westra

The Indifference Curve, Motivation, and Morality in Contingent Valuation Rob Hart and Uwe Latacz-Lohmann

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