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Economic Valuation and Environmental Values


  • Michael Prior


The origins of both economic and philosophical value theory are examined and shown to be closely related. The status of neo-classical value theory is that it is internally flawed in any attempt to describe the real world. Cost-benefit analysis as it applies to the valuation of environmental agents relies upon the claim that this neo-classical theory has a particular status in optimal welfare maximisation and, therefore, suffers the same problems of internal consistency. Economic valuation of the environment is not a scientific process derived from external law but a social process relying upon social agreement. Alternatives to economic valuation are considered and may possess a more plausible social base. However, all environmental valuation is at odds with beliefs based upon the existence of objective and intrinsic values.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Prior, 1998. "Economic Valuation and Environmental Values," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 7(4), pages 423-441, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev7:ev722

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    Cited by:

    1. Melissa L. Finucane & Joan L. Holup, 2006. "Risk as Value: Combining Affect and Analysis in Risk Judgments," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 141-164, March.

    More about this item


    economics; axiology; values; cost-benefit analysis; environmental assessment;

    JEL classification:

    • D46 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Value Theory
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects


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