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11-02 "Ethics and the Economist: What Climate Change Demands of Us"

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  • Julie A. Nelson

Abstract

Climate change is changing not only our physical world, but also our intellectual, social, and moral worlds. We are realizing that our situation is profoundly unsafe, interdependent, and uncertain. What, then, does climate change demand of us, as human beings and as economists? A discipline of economics based on Enlightenment notions of mechanism and disembodied rationality is not suited to present problems. This essay suggests three major requirements: first, that we take action; second, that we work together; and third, that we focus on avoiding the worst, rather than obtaining the optimal. The essay concludes with suggestions of specific steps that economists can take as researchers, teachers, and in our other roles.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie A. Nelson, 2011. "11-02 "Ethics and the Economist: What Climate Change Demands of Us"," GDAE Working Papers 11-02, GDAE, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:dae:daepap:11-02
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    File URL: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/11-02EthicsandEconomists.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Dasgupta, Partha, 2005. "What Do Economists Analyze And Why: Values Or Facts?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 221-278, October.
    6. Julie A. Nelson, 1995. "Feminism and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 131-148, Spring.
    7. Dasgupta, Partha, 2007. "Economics: A Very Short Introduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192853455.
    8. Benedetto Gui & Luca Stanca, 2010. "Happiness and relational goods: well-being and interpersonal relations in the economic sphere," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 57(2), pages 105-118, June.
    9. Jonathan M. Harris, "undated". "01-09 "Macroeconomic Policy and Sustainability"," GDAE Working Papers 01-09, GDAE, Tufts University.
    10. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
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    12. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    13. Simon Dietz & Nicholas Stern, 2008. "Why Economic Analysis Supports Strong Action on Climate Change: A Response to the Stern Review's Critics," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 94-113, Winter.
    14. Frank Ackerman & Ian J. Finlayson, "undated". "06-07 “The Economics of Inaction on Climate Change: A Sensitivity Analysis”," GDAE Working Papers 06-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
    15. Elizabeth Stanton, 2011. "Negishi welfare weights in integrated assessment models: the mathematics of global inequality," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 417-432, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. John M. Gowdy, 2013. "Valuing nature for climate change policy: from discounting the future to truly social deliberation," Chapters,in: Handbook on Energy and Climate Change, chapter 25, pages 547-560 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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