Environmental Values 9(2000): 235-248. doi: 10.3197/096327100129342056
Environmental economics 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 environmental economics in order to make it fit better with actual political objectives. After briefly outlining the case for an economic paradigm that differs from conventional (i.e. neo-classical welfare) environmental economics, 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.
KEYWORDS: Bromley, neutrality, objectivity, Pearce
CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:
Natura economica in Environmental ValuationKatrine Soma
This article is available online (PDF format) from Ingenta Journals. Access is free if your institution subscribes to Environmental Values.
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