David Pearce and the economic valuation of biodiversity
David Pearce was a pioneer in the economic valuation of biodiversity. His work powerfully influenced both later economists who worked in the field and natural scientists and practitioners who gained and appreciation of the importance of economics to their efforts. Pearce often applied the paradigm of demonstration followed by appropriation: the values of biodiversity must first be demonstrated to those who make decisions concerning its survival, and then appropriated by them. The later step will be possible when market and policy failures are rectified so as to allow the realization of conservation values. While Pearce wrote extensively on these themes, he was also acutely aware of the limitations of the paradigm. Rosy projections of values that could not be realized and appropriated would be of little practical use, and Pearce often cautioned against excesses of optimism. Yet he also clearly believed that there are compelling, if not always easily demonstrated, reasons for conservation. I argue in this paper that Pearce’s seminal work on the valuation of biodiversity cannot be understood without some appreciation of his philosophical perspective. Pearce would have described himself as a pragmatist. However, his pragmatism was grounded in the belief that it is both expedient and ethical to recognize that communities in some of the poorest corners of the world will only conserve biodiversity if they are justly compensated for the sacrifices they must make to do so. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007
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Volume (Year): 37 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
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