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The Disvalue of 'Contingent Valuation' and the Problem of the 'Expectation Gap'

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'Contingent Valuation' is a method often used to make decisions about environmental issues. It is used to elicit citizens' preferences at the location of a specific facility, new road and the like. I argue that even if we could elicit a truly informed and 'free' choice, the method would remain flawed, as 1) all 'local' activity also has far-reaching environmental consequences; 2) majority decisions may support chices that adversely affect minorities; 3) even with full information, consenting to harms like significant alterations of our normal functioning or health, or genetic mutations, may not be morally acceptable.

Keywords: citizens' choices; global impacts; minority rights; risk assessment methods

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2000

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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