Ethics, Politics, And Nonsatiation In Consumption: A Synthesis
In contrast with the production of goods and services by firms, where the production costs are minimized under appropriate behavioral assumptions, consumer- producers have as objective the maximization of consumption expenditure, i.e., production costs of their outputs. According to Kenneth Boulding, were the impact upon the limited resources available on planet Earth taken into account, consumption expenditure should be something to be minimized. Thus, either we abandon consumer theory, as we know it, or we keep it as a reasonable description of reality. Then we should evaluate the long run consequences of such behavior in a larger context, which, as the consequence of larger population with increasing per capita consumption, comprises the overburdening of natural resources. When we decompose the time horizon of cultural evolution into shorter periods of adjustment, we may distinguish several types of institutional determination of how societies take decisions, as a group and individually. The postulate of maximizing consumption is reasonable for an aggregate approach. It simply reflects the predominant ethical values, of which ideologies, political platforms, and demand patterns are shorter run adjustments.
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