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Clive L. Spash

Ecological Economics at the Cross-roads

processes rather than optimal paths to static equilibria. However, the particular interpretation via the coevolutionary paradigm remains a topic for open debate within ecological economics. Thus, while the subject remains open, and is for this reason attractive to many struggling to develop a comprehensive understanding of environmental values, Munda describes what is progressive in ecological economics and shows how it is moving distinctively away from main- stream economics.

As new concepts are developed within ecological economics, the ‘improved linkage’ route of combining existing economic approaches with natural science information seems too limiting. The themes of the developing subject area no longer sit comfortably in the mechanistic framework of environmental and resource economics and as a result the divide between the two seems set to grow. In this regard, the reader should note that the neo-classical approach is but one type of economics which has been operating within ecological economics. Institutional economics has been exerting its influence and may offer a forum for open debate more amenable to many (see Spash and Villena, 1999). Marxism and socialism have also been entering the debate with authors considering how the environment should be included in their more tradi- tional analyses; one result has been the development of political ecolog , ENRef (see for exam- ple O’Connor, 1994; Keil et al., 1998). Rethinking the role of science in society along the lines proposed by Funtowicz and Ravetz (1992; 1993) will change the perception of ecologists and economists as to their role in environmental policy formation.

“Ecological Economics” versus “Ecology & Economics” Ecological Economics is currently more of a movement than a discipline because the interdisci- plinary requirements make a core methodology hard to define. One approach to trying to probe the values which underlie the subject is to look at what ecological economists do. This requires identify those who ascribe to the discipline and studying their work. However, as noted, an initial policy in the ISEE was to gain wide support from established academics prepared to sign- up to the general concept of studying economy-environment interactions. Environmental econo- mists interested in how ecology might contribute to economics joined while continuing their work as before and only some of these had a view to developing new approaches. This has resulted in the names of individuals long associated with a narrow neo-classical environmental


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