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Conceptions of Value in Environmental Decision-Making

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  • John O'Neill
  • Clive L. Spash

Abstract

Environmental problems have an ethical dimension. They are not just about the efficient use of resources. Justice in the distribution of environmental goods and burdens, fairness in the processes of environmental decision-making, the moral claims of future generations and non-humans, these and other ethical values inform the responses of citizens to environmental problems. How can these concerns enter into good policy-making processes? Two expert-based approaches are commonly advocated for incorporating ethical values into environmental decision-making. One is an 'economic capture' approach, according to which existing economic methods can be successfully extended to include ethical concerns. For example, stated preference methods, especially contingent valuation, have been developed to try and capture ethical responses as 'non-use values' of the environment, in particular 'existence values'. The other is a 'moral expert' approach which confines economic methods to the analysis of welfare gains, and assumes committees of ethical experts will complement economic expertise. Both approaches face problems in terms of addressing many widely held ethical values about the environment. Furthermore, both face problems concerning the democratic legitimacy of their procedures. How can policy-making be made responsive to different ethical values? What role is there for new deliberative and participatory methods? How far do existing decision-making institutions have the capacities to incorporate different modes of articulating environmental values? This policy brief examines the limitations of current attempts to capture ethical values within existing economic instruments and considers how these limitations might be overcome. Section 1 examines the assumptions that standard economic theory makes about individuals when they express values and make choices about the environment. The current models of agents that inform policy-making are seen to be ill-suited to incorporating the ethical responses of agents and this reveals some of the policy failures that may result. Section 2 shows how the physical and social properties of many environmental goods prevent their being treated as commodities. Section 3 considers the problems surrounding conceptions of fairness and legitimacy in processes for environmental valuation. Section 4 raises questions concerning the capacities of policy-making institutions to take cognisance of the results of different methods for articulating environmental values.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by White Horse Press in its journal Environmental Values.

Volume (Year): 9 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 521-536

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Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev9:ev925

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Web page: http://www.erica.demon.co.uk

Related research

Keywords: contingent valuation; justice; fairness; efficiency; ethical values; policy-making;

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Citations

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As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
  1. > Schools of Economic Thought, Epistemology of Economics > Heterodox Approaches > Ecological Economics > Environmental Values
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Cited by:
  1. Ananda, Jayanath & Herath, Gamini, 2003. "The use of Analytic Hierarchy Process to incorporate stakeholder preferences into regional forest planning," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 13-26, January.
  2. Jayanath Ananada & Gamini Herath, 2008. "Quantifying Public Preferences in Regional Forest Planning: A Comparison of Decision Theoretic Models," Economics Series 2008_02, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  3. Marco Grasso, 2004. "Utilizzo e diffusione della valutazione economica dei beni," Others, EconWPA 0406002, EconWPA.
  4. Antonio A. R. Ioris, 2012. "The Positioned Construction of Water Values: Pluralism, Positionality and Praxis," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, White Horse Press, vol. 21(2), pages 143-162, May.
  5. Gowdy, John M., 2008. "Behavioral economics and climate change policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 632-644, December.
  6. Clive L. Spash, 2012. "Towards the integration of social, economic and ecological knowledge," SRE-Disc, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business sre-disc-2012_04, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  7. Christos Zografos & Richard B. Howarth, 2010. "Deliberative Ecological Economics for Sustainability Governance," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(11), pages 3399-3417, October.
  8. Iulie Aslaksen & Anne Ingeborg Myhr, 2006. "“The worth of a wildflower” Precautionary perspectives on the environmental risk of GMOs," Discussion Papers, Research Department of Statistics Norway 476, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  9. Spash, Clive L. & Vatn, Arild, 2006. "Transferring environmental value estimates: Issues and alternatives," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 379-388, December.
  10. Ali DOUAI (GREThA-GRES) & Matthieu MONTALBAN (GREThA-GRES), 2009. "Institutions and the environment: the case for a historical political economy," Cahiers du GRES, Groupement de Recherches Economiques et Sociales 2009-07, Groupement de Recherches Economiques et Sociales.
  11. Aslaksen, Iulie & Ingeborg Myhr, Anne, 2007. ""The worth of a wildflower": Precautionary perspectives on the environmental risk of GMOs," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 489-497, January.
  12. Eriksson, Ralf, 2005. "On the ethics of environmental economics as seen from textbooks," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 421-435, March.
  13. Ali DOUAI (GREThA-GRES), 2007. "Wealth, Well-being and Value(s): A Proposition of Structuring Concepts for a (real) Transdisciplinary Dialogue within Ecological Economics," Cahiers du GRES, Groupement de Recherches Economiques et Sociales 2007-21, Groupement de Recherches Economiques et Sociales.
  14. S. Franceschini & G. Marletto, 2014. "A deliberative-participative procedure for sustainable urban mobility – Findings from a test in Bari (Italy)," Working Paper CRENoS 201408, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.

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