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Contestations Over Biodiversity Protection: Considering Peircean Semiosis

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We develop the general outlines of an evolutionary biodiversity policy that is consistent with the pragmatism of Charles Sanders Peirce and the institutional economics of John R. Commons. Our model is applied to recent experiences with biodiversity policy in Finland, especially a local policy initiative: Natural Values Trading (2003-2007). The purpose of this experiment was to explore how a voluntary, fixed-term, payment- and incentive-based scheme for biodiversity protection might perform. As a result of the experiment, the principles of the scheme have become a formalised part of Finnish forest biodiversity law and policy. In this paper we analyse the evolution of this particular institutional arrangement by applying Peircean semiosis and the negotiational psychology of Commons. A central component of our approach will be to explicate the role and significance of sign processes in: (1) how and why the need for new policy instruments emerges; (2) how those policies are developed, designed and tested; and (3) how decisions about those new instruments are made. We urge that the sign process should play a greater role in how scholars understand the evolution of biodiversity policy. Semiosis is 'good to think with'.
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Keywords: biodiversity policy; institutional economics; institutional evolution; pragmatism; semiosis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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  • 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 a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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