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Viewpoint: Weak versus Strong Sustainability

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Author Info

  • Robert U. Ayres

    (INSEAD)

  • Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

    ()
    (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • John M. Gowdy

    (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Abstract

The meaning of sustainability is the subject of intense debate among environmental and resourceeconomists. Perhaps no other issue separates more the traditional economic view of the naturalworld from the views of most natural scientists. The debate currently focuses on the substitutabilitybetween the economy and the environment or between "natural capital" and "manufacturedcapital"-- a debate captured in terms of "weak" vs. "strong" sustainability. In this paper the variousinterpretations of these concepts are examined. In addition, the goal of weak sustainability iscritically evaluated. Attention is devoted to, among other things, utility and lexicographicpreferences, economic valuation, natural science perspectives on sustainability, and the notion of"consilience" as recently suggested by E.O. Wilson.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 98-103/3.

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Date of creation: 28 Sep 1998
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:19980103

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

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  1. Solow, Robert M, 1986. " On the Intergenerational Allocation of Natural Resources," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 141-49.
  2. Hartwick, John M., 1978. "Investing returns from depleting renewable resource stocks and intergenerational equity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 85-88.
  3. Solow, Robert M., 1997. "Georgescu-Roegen versus Solow-Stiglitz," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 267-268, September.
  4. Daly, Herman E., 1992. "Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 185-193, December.
  5. Hartwick, John M, 1978. "Substitution among Exhaustible Resources and Intergenerational Equity," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 347-54, June.
  6. Pearce, David & Hamilton, Kirk & Atkinson, Giles, 1996. "Measuring sustainable development: progress on indicators," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 85-101, February.
  7. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-74, December.
  8. Common, Mick & Perrings, Charles, 1992. "Towards an ecological economics of sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 7-34, July.
  9. Alistair Munro, 1997. "Economics and biological evolution," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(4), pages 429-449, June.
  10. Cabeza Gutes, Maite, 1996. "The concept of weak sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 147-156, June.
  11. van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M. & Verbruggen, Harmen, 1999. "Spatial sustainability, trade and indicators: an evaluation of the 'ecological footprint'," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 61-72, April.
  12. Norton, Bryan & Costanza, Robert & Bishop, Richard C., 1998. "The evolution of preferences: Why 'sovereign' preferences may not lead to sustainable policies and what to do about it," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 193-211, February.
  13. Bromley, Daniel W., 1998. "Searching for sustainability: The poverty of spontaneous order," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 231-240, February.
  14. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 1998. "Evolutionary Theories in Environmental and Resource Economics: Approaches and Applications," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers, Tinbergen Institute 98-122/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Tom Kuhlman & John Farrington, 2010. "What is Sustainability?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(11), pages 3436-3448, November.
  3. Faße, Anja & Grote, Ulrike, 2013. "The economic relevance of sustainable agroforestry practices — An empirical analysis from Tanzania," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 86-96.
  4. Leandri, Marc, 2009. "The shadow price of assimilative capacity in optimal flow pollution control," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1020-1031, February.

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