Economische wetenschap als politieke muze : filosofische reflecties op de relevantie van economische wetenschap voor ecologisch beleid

M.K. Deblonde

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    The first part of this book - consisting of chapters 2, 3 and 4 - is a philosophical exploration of the characteristics of an economics that intends to be relevant for the problem of sustainability. In chapter 2, 1 will analyse economic and political theories as conceptual constructs referring to the economic and political sphere respectively. I will argue that such conceptual constructs inevitably are value-laden and that, hence, different conceptual constructs of the same sphere can exist. I will argue, moreover, that and why it is important to distinguish between the economic and the political sphere. I will derive the latter arguments from a confrontation between Buchanan's and Arendt's political theory.

    In chapter 3, 1 will discuss an economy as consisting of two dimensions, a symbolic or institutional one and an ecological one. Such interpretation will allow us to understand the ecological performance of an economy as the counterpart of its institutional organisation. I will further argue that, in order to get insights into the internal relationships between an economy and its ecological performance, we need insights into the institutional whole of an economy. And I will elaborate on what I mean by "an institutional whole". I will suggest that it is a matter of conceptually analysing different types of economic institutions and different hierarchies of institutions. Chapter 3 will thus offer us some substantive norms for an economics that aims at contributing successfully to the political objective of "sustainability".

    In chapter 4, 1 will derive four norms for the nature, rather than the content, of a politically successful economics. I will suggest that a politically successful economics should, to start with, be objective in the sense that it should aim at intersubjective consensus among economists. Objectivity as intersubjective consensus does, however, not imply neutrality. I will suggest, further, that economics should provide economic policy with insights, rather than instruments. This means that economics should aim at (non-neutral) description and explanation, not at (non-neutral) prescription and prediction. I will assert, finally, that economics should be rather impartial than partial. It should explain economic sources of political inequality and contribute to political freedom. Both Arendt's interpretation of politics as a deliberative democracy and Weber's and Neurath's philosophical reflections on the nature of the social sciences will function as the breeding ground for these norms.

    In the second part of this book, i.e., chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8, 1 will confront the norms developed concerning both the content and the nature of an ecologically successful economics with the writings of David Pearce and Daniel Bromley. Chapters 5 and 7 are a substantive reconstruction of Pearce's and Bromley's theoretical work respectively, Chapters 6 and 8 are an analysis of the nature of their economics. Chapters 5 and 7 will make clear to what extent their writings comply with the substantive norm 1 propose in chapter 3. Chapters 6 and 8 will illuminate to what extent their writings meet the four norms suggested , in chapter 4, for the nature of an ecologically successful economics.

    Part 1 and 11 will be closed by chapter 9, in which 1 will give an overview of the main conclusions of this research project.

    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Wageningen University
    • Korthals, M., Promotor
    • Gremmen, Bart, Promotor
    • van der Straaten, J., Promotor, External person
    Award date16 Feb 2001
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Print ISBNs9789048158881
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2001


    • ecology
    • sustainability
    • government policy
    • economic theory
    • economics
    • influences


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