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The economic valuation of biodiversity as an abstract good

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  • Meinard, Yves
  • Grill, Philippe
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    Abstract

    The notion of an economic valuation of biodiversity raises major philosophical and practical challenges, especially due to the fact that biodiversity is an abstract good. Insights from political philosophy and philosophy of language can help to clarify the reliability and scope of the current economic methods that can be used for the purpose of valuing it. The analogy with another abstract good, justice, indeed shows that thinking about abstract goods is a very specific exercise. If they do not take account of this specificity, applications of hedonic and contingent valuation methods can hardly claim to be relevant to value biodiversity. Rawls' theory of justice provides for the conceptual tools to overcome this problem. A reinterpretation, based on the theory of counterfactuals, allows generalizing this account of justice to outline a theory of thinking about abstract goods. This new framework emphasizes the importance of the institutional context in determining the reliability of thinking about abstract goods. It points toward substantial reforms of the methodology of economic valuation. Specifically, it suggests reinterpreting valuation as a dynamic expressive process, where initial steps aim at reinforcing the reliability of later steps through an institutional transformation and stabilization of preferences for abstract goods.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800911001923
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 10 (August)
    Pages: 1707-1714

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:10:p:1707-1714

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Biodiversity Economic valuation Theory of justice Counterfactuals Institutions;

    References

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    1. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
    2. Heal, Geoffrey, 2004. "Economics of biodiversity: an introduction," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 105-114, June.
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    8. W. Michael Hanemann, 1994. "Valuing the Environment through Contingent Valuation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 19-43, Fall.
    9. Palmquist, Raymond B., 2006. "Property Value Models," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 763-819 Elsevier.
    10. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    11. Richard Carson & Robert Mitchell & Michael Hanemann & Raymond Kopp & Stanley Presser & Paul Ruud, 2003. "Contingent Valuation and Lost Passive Use: Damages from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(3), pages 257-286, July.
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    13. Weitzman, Martin L, 1992. "On Diversity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 363-405, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jobstvogt, Niels & Hanley, Nick & Hynes, Stephen & Kenter, Jasper & Witte, Ursula, 2014. "Twenty thousand sterling under the sea: Estimating the value of protecting deep-sea biodiversity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 10-19.
    2. Wolfson, Dirk J., 2014. "Who gets what in environmental policy?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 8-14.

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