Seeking Consilience for Sustainability Science:Â Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and the New Economics
The human system, driven largely by economic decisions, has profoundly affected planetary ecosystems as well as the energy supplies and natural resources essential to economic production. The challenge of sustainability is to understand and manage the complex interactions between human systems and the rest of nature. This conceptual article makes the case that meeting this challenge requires consilience between the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, which is to say that their basic assumptions must be mutually reinforcing and consistent. This article reviews the extent to which economics is pursuing consilience with the sciences of human behavior, physics and ecology, and the impact full consilience would have on the field. The science of human behavior would force economists to redefine what is desirable, while physics and ecology redefine what is possible. The challenges posed by ecological degradation can be modeled as prisoner's dilemmas, best solved through cooperation, not competition. Fortunately, science reveals that humans may be among the most cooperative of all species. While much of the mainstream economic theory that still dominates academic and the policy discourse continues to ignore important findings from other sciences, several sub-fields of economics have made impressive strides towards consilience in recent decades, and these are likely to change mainstream theory eventually. The question is whether these changes can proceed rapidly enough to solve the most serious problems we currently face.
Volume (Year): 2 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| |
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- R. M. Solow, 1973.
"Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources,"
103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- R. M. Solow, 1974. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustible Resources," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(5), pages 29-45.
- Cipriani, Giam Pietro & Lubian, Diego & Zago, Angelo, 2009. "Natural born economists?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 455-468, June.
- Martinez-Alier, Joan & Munda, Giuseppe & O'Neill, John, 1998. "Weak comparability of values as a foundation for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 277-286, September.
- Apergis, Nicholas & Payne, James E., 2010. "Energy consumption and growth in South America: Evidence from a panel error correction model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1421-1426, November.
- Malghan, Deepak, 2011. "A dimensionally consistent aggregation framework for biophysical metrics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 900-909, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lib:000cis:v:2:y:2014:i:1:p:1-17. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dr. José A. F. Monteiro)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.