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Economic Valuation and Environmental Values

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The origins of both economic and philosophical value theory are examined and shown to be closely related. The status of neo-classical value theory is that it is internally flawed in any attempt to describe the real world. Cost-benefit analysis as it applies to the valuation of environmental agents relies upon the claim that this neo-classical theory has a particular status in optimal welfare maximisation and, therefore, suffers the same problems of internal consistency. Economic valuation of the environment is not a scientific process derived from external law but a social process relying upon social agreement. Alternatives to economic valuation are considered and may possess a more plausible social base. However, all environmental valuation is at odds with beliefs based upon the existence of objective and intrinsic values.

Keywords: axiology; cost-benefit analysis; economics; environmental assessment; values

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1998-11-01

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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