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A Rhetorical Critique of 'Nonmarket' Economic Valuations for Natural Resources

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Abstract:

Various 'nonmarket' economic valuation methods have been used to compute 'total' value of nonmarketed natural resources and related recreation. We first outline the history of these valuation techniques and use the Exxon Valdez disaster response and the valuation of whooping cranes, an endangered species, as examples of how these tools can constrain policy. We then explain how, by excluding non-economic social spheres, economic valuation techniques produce a terministic screen that deforms policy makers' vision of the ecological problems faced by society. Using Luhmann's functionalist social theory, we demonstrate that when natural resource managers privilege economic motives, they trivialize other social functions such as education, politics, religion and law. This process presents a significant ethical dilemma for democracies by first naturalizing, then ethicizing, existing patterns of domination.

Keywords: environmental ethics; functionalism; natural resources; nonmarket economic valuation; rhetorical criticism; wildlife

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3197/096327193776679990

Publication date: 1993-02-01

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2015) of 1.311.
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