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
Reprints of this article can be ordered from the British Library Document Supply Service or ingenta
Contact the publishers for subscriptions and back numbers of Environmental Values.
THE WHITE HORSE PRESS
The Old Vicarage, Winwick
Cambridgeshire, PE28 5PN, UK
Tel: +44 1832 293222