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Ethics and the economist: What climate change demands of us

  • Nelson, J.A.

Climate change is changing not only our physical world, but also our intellectual, social, and moral worlds. We are realizing that our situation is profoundly unsafe, interdependent, and uncertain. What, then, does climate change demand of economists, as human beings and as professionals? A discipline of economics based on Enlightenment notions of mechanism and disembodied rationality is not suited to present problems. This essay suggests three major requirements: first, that we take action; second, that we work together; and third, that we focus on avoiding the worst, rather than obtaining the optimal. The essay concludes with suggestions of specific steps that economists should take as researchers, teachers, and in our other roles.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 85 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 145-154

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:85:y:2013:i:c:p:145-154
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.07.029
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  1. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  2. Gregory Dees, J. & Cramton, Peter C., 1991. "Shrewd Bargaining on the Moral Frontier: Toward a Theory of Morality In Practice," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 135-167, April.
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  4. Weitzman, Martin L., 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Scholarly Articles 3693423, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Nelson, J.A., 1995. "Feminism, Ecology, and the Philosophy of Economics," Papers 95-12, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
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  10. Howarth, Richard B & Norgaard, Richard B, 1992. "Environmental Valuation under Sustainable Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 473-77, May.
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  13. Simon Dietz & Nicholas Stern, 2008. "Why Economic Analysis Supports Strong Action on Climate Change: A Response to the Stern Review's Critics," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 94-113, Winter.
  14. Benedetto Gui & Luca Stanca, 2010. "Happiness and relational goods: well-being and interpersonal relations in the economic sphere," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 57(2), pages 105-118, June.
  15. Dasgupta, Partha, 2007. "Economics: A Very Short Introduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192853455, December.
  16. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, December.
  17. Elizabeth Stanton, 2011. "Negishi welfare weights in integrated assessment models: the mathematics of global inequality," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 417-432, August.
  18. Martin L. Weitzman, 2011. "Fat-Tailed Uncertainty in the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 275-292, Summer.
  19. Julie A. Nelson, 1995. "Feminism and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 131-148, Spring.
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