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The art of long-term thinking: A bridge between sustainability science and politics


  • Klauer, Bernd
  • Manstetten, Reiner
  • Petersen, Thomas
  • Schiller, Johannes


Policy makers are dependent upon scientific knowledge. However, scientific results cannot be applied straightforwardly in practical decision making. We deploy Kant's term “power of judgment” – the human capacity to apply general insights to specific, contingent situations – to show that this problem is systematic rather than coincidental: decision making requires the power of judgment to make use of scientific knowledge. Power of judgment, in turns, can be supported by heuristics. Against this background, we focus on sustainability politics and outline a heuristic for framing and analyzing sustainability problems. Because time is a key factor in relation to sustainability we distinguish three distinct concepts of time and argue that the economic concepts of “stocks” and “institutions” can be used to foster power of judgment with respect to these time concepts. Based on these concepts, the heuristic serves to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and practical decision making in sustainability politics.

Suggested Citation

  • Klauer, Bernd & Manstetten, Reiner & Petersen, Thomas & Schiller, Johannes, 2013. "The art of long-term thinking: A bridge between sustainability science and politics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 79-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:93:y:2013:i:c:p:79-84
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.04.018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baumgärtner, Stefan & Quaas, Martin, 2010. "What is sustainability economics?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 445-450, January.
    2. World Commission on Environment and Development,, 1987. "Our Common Future," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192820808.
    3. Faber, Malte & Frank, Karin & Klauer, Bernd & Manstetten, Reiner & Schiller, Johannes & Wissel, Christian, 2005. "On the foundation of a general theory of stocks," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 155-172, November.
    4. Spash, Clive L., 2012. "New foundations for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 36-47.
    5. Kingston, Christopher & Caballero, Gonzalo, 2009. "Comparing theories of institutional change," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 151-180, August.
    6. Oliver E. Williamson, 2000. "The New Institutional Economics: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 595-613, September.
    7. Faber, Malte, 2008. "How to be an ecological economist," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-7, May.
    8. Sigel, Katja & Klauer, Bernd & Pahl-Wostl, Claudia, 2010. "Conceptualising uncertainty in environmental decision-making: The example of the EU water framework directive," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 502-510, January.
    9. Illge, Lydia & Schwarze, Reimund, 2009. "A matter of opinion--How ecological and neoclassical environmental economists and think about sustainability and economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 594-604, January.
    10. Peter Weingart, 1999. "Scientific expertise and political accountability: paradoxes of science in politics," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 151-161, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:295-305 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Fischer, Beate & Klauer, Bernd & Schiller, Johannes, 2013. "Prospects for sustainable land-use policy in Germany: Experimenting with a sustainability heuristic," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 213-220.
    3. Strunz, Sebastian & Klauer, Bernd & Ring, Irene & Schiller, Johannes, 2014. "Between Scylla and Charybdis: On the place of economic methods and concepts within ecological economics," UFZ Discussion Papers 26/2014, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    4. Petersen, Thomas & Klauer, Bernd, 2014. "Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung, Partizipation und die Verantwortung des Staates in der Umweltpolitik," UFZ Discussion Papers 7/2014, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    5. Konrad Ott, 2014. "Institutionalizing Strong Sustainability: A Rawlsian Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(2), pages 1-19, February.
    6. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:136-143 is not listed on IDEAS


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