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Environmental Values

Existence Value, Welfare and Altruism

Jonathan Aldred

Environmental Values 3(1994): 381-402. doi: 10.3197/096327194776679665

Existence Value has become an increasingly important concept as the use of cost benefit analysis has spread from traditional applications to attempts to place monetary value on, for instance, a rare wetland habitat. Environmental economists have generally accepted the tensions arising in the existence value concept from the range of recent applications, but it is argued here that their various attempts to resolve the difficulties have largely failed. Critics from outside economics, on the other hand, typically claim that the very notion of existence value as understood in economics is flawed, and urge its abandonment altogether. This paper suggests instead a fundamental redefinition of existence value, which, it is argued, (i) explains a number of diverse problems posed by the usual meaning of the term in economics; (ii) does not strain the intentions of respondents to 'willingness-to-pay' surveys; (iii) is consistent with a more realistic model of rational choice in environmental decision-making; and (iv) is sensitive to criticisms from environmental ethics.


KEYWORDS: Existence value, contingent valuation method, welfare, commitment, altruism, incommensurable choices

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Moral Pluralism and the Environment. Andrew Brennan

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Plural Values and Environmental Valuation. Wilfred Beckerman and Joanna Pasek

Nonuse Values and the Environment: Economic and Ethical Motivations. Tom Crowards

Value Typology in Cost-Benefit Analysis. Seth D. Baum



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