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Ecological Economics and Philosophy of Science: Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology and Ideology

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  • Clive L. Spash

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Abstract

Ecological economics has been repeatedly described as transdisciplinary and open to including everything from positivism to relativism. I argue for a revision and rejection of this position in favour of realism and reasoned critique. Looking into the ontological presuppositions and considering an epistemology appropriate for ecological economics to meaningfully exist requires rejecting the form of methodological pluralism which has been advocated since the start of this journal. This means being clear about the differences in our worldview (or paradigm) from others and being aware of the substantive failures of orthodox economics in addressing reality. This paper argues for a fundamental review of the basis upon which ecological economics has been founded and in so doing seeks improved clarity as to the competing and complementary epistemologies and methodologies. In part this requires establishing serious interdisciplinary research to replace superficial transdisciplinary rhetoric. The argument places the future of ecological economics firmly amongst heterodox economic schools of thought and in ideological opposition to those supporting the existing institutional structures perpetuating a false reality of the world's social, environmental and economic systems and their operation.

Suggested Citation

  • Clive L. Spash, 2012. "Ecological Economics and Philosophy of Science: Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology and Ideology," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2012_03, Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwsre:sre-disc-2012_03
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ontology; Epistemology; Methodology; Ideology; Preanalytic vision; Interdisciplinarity; Logical empiricism; Constructivism; Post-normal science; Critical realism; Ecological economics; Pluralism;

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics

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