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New foundations for ecological economics

  • Spash, Clive L.

Ecological economics has been repeatedly described as transdiciplinary and open to including everything from positivism to relativism. I argue for a revision and rejection of this position in favour of realism and reasoned critique. Looking into the ontological presuppositions and considering an epistemology appropriate for ecological economics to meaningfully exist requires rejecting the form of methodological pluralism which has been advocated since the start of this journal. This means being clear about the differences in our worldview (or paradigm) from others and being aware of the substantive failures of orthodox economics in addressing reality. This paper argues for a fundamental review of the basis upon which ecological economics has been founded and in so doing seeks improved clarity as to the competing and complementary epistemologies and methodologies. In part this requires establishing serious interdisciplinary research to replace superficial transdisciplinary rhetoric. The argument places the future of ecological economics firmly amongst heterodox economic schools of thought and in ideological opposition to those supporting the existing institutional structures perpetuating a false reality of the world's social, environmental and economic systems and their operation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 77 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 36-47

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:77:y:2012:i:c:p:36-47
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.02.004
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  13. Caldwell, Bruce J, 1991. "Clarifying Popper," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-33, March.
  14. Richard P.F. Holt & Clive L. Spash, 2009. "Post Keynesian and Ecological Economics: Alternative Perspectives on Sustainability and Environmental Economics," Chapters, in: Post Keynesian and Ecological Economics, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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  16. Vatn, Arild, 2005. "Rationality, institutions and environmental policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 203-217, November.
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  19. Clive L. Spash, 2010. "Censoring Science in Research Officially," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 19(2), pages 141-146, May.
  20. Castro e Silva, Manuela & Teixeira, Aurora A.C., 2011. "A bibliometric account of the evolution of EE in the last two decades: Is ecological economics (becoming) a post-normal science?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 849-862, March.
  21. Mayumi, Kozo, 1997. "Information, pseudo measures and entropy: An elaboration on Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's critique," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 249-259, September.
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  26. O'Connor, Martin, 2000. "Pathways for environmental evaluation: a walk in the (Hanging) Gardens of Babylon," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 175-193, August.
  27. Clive L. Spash, 2009. "The New Environmental Pragmatists, Pluralism and Sustainability," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 18(3), pages 253-256, August.
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  31. Clive L. Spash, 2012. "Towards the integration of social, economic and ecological knowledge," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2012_04, Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
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