Between Economics and Ecology: Some Historical and Philosophical Considerations for Modelers of Natural Capital

Article

Abstract

Natural capital models attempt to remediate the relationship between economics and ecology either by conjoining models and theories from each discipline or by finding a type of phenomena that can be meaningfully measured by both fields. The developmentof a widely accepted model which integrates economics and ecologyhas eluded researchers since the early 1970s. This paper offers an historical and philosophical perspective on some of the conceptual problems or obstacles that hinder the development ofnatural capital models. In particular, the disciplinary assumptions of economic science and ecological science are examined and it is argued that these assumptions are antithetical. Hence, the development of an effective and acceptednatural capital model will require that economics and ecology reconsider their self-conceptions as sciences. For the purposesof theoretical research and practical policy, the paper cautionsagainst confusing the issue of whether or not economic models accord with ecological models with the issue of whether or not economic activities accord with ecological realities.

ecology economics history human science natural capital natural science philosophy 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barlow, Nora (ed.): 1958, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–1882, W. W. Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Beckerman, W.: 1972, 'Economists, scientists, and environmental catastrophe', Oxford Econ. Papers 24, 237–244.Google Scholar
  3. Bramwell, Anna: 1989, Ecology in the 20th Century, Yale University Press, New Haven.Google Scholar
  4. Brewer, Richard: 1979, Principles of Ecology, Saunders College Publishing, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  5. Carson, Rachel: 1962, 1987, Silent Spring, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  6. Costanza, Robert and Herendeen, R.: 1984, 'Embodied energy and economic value in the United States economy: 1963, 1967 and 1972', Resour. Energy 6, 129–164.Google Scholar
  7. Costanza, Robert and Hannon, B.: 1989, 'Dealing with the 'Mixed' Units Problem in Ecosystem Analysis', in F. Wulff, J. G. Field and K. H. Mann (eds), Network Analysis in Marine Ecology: Methods and Applications, Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  8. Costanza, Robert and Herman, E. Daly: 1992, 'Natural capital and sustainable development', Conserv. Biol. 6, 37–46.Google Scholar
  9. Curtis, Helena: 1983, Biology, Worth Publishers, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Daly, Herman E.: 1996, Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development, Beacon Press, Boston.Google Scholar
  11. Hannon, B.: 1979, 'Total energy costs in ecosystems', J. Theor. Biol. 80, 271–293.Google Scholar
  12. Herendeen, R.: 1981, 'Energy intensities in ecological and economic systems', J. Theor. Biol. 91, 607–620.Google Scholar
  13. Hollander, Samuel: 1989, 'Diminishing returns and Malthus's first essay on population: Theory and application', Economies et Sociétés 11, 11–39.Google Scholar
  14. Latour, Bruno: 1991, We Have Never Been Modern, Catherine Porter, trans. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  15. Lipsey, Richard, Douglas, G., Purvis, D., Gordon, R., Sparks, Peter and Steiner, O.: 1982, Economics, Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Meadows, Dennis L., Meadows, Donella H., K., Randers, Jørgen and Behrens, William, W.: 1972, The Limits to Growth, Universe Books, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Milon, J. Walter and Shogren, Jason F.: 1995, 'Economics, Ecology and the Art of Integration', in J. Walter Milon and Jason F. Shogren, (eds), Integrating Economic and Ecological Indicators: Practical Methods for Environmental Policy Analysis.Google Scholar
  18. Odum, H.: 1972, 'An Energy Circuit Language for Ecological and Social Systems: Its Physical Basis' in B. C. Patten (ed.), Systems Analysis and Simulations in Ecology, Vol. 2.Google Scholar
  19. Pearce, David: 1998, Economics and the Environment: Essays on Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, U.K.Google Scholar
  20. Spary, Emma: 1996. 'Political, Natural and Bodily Economies', in N. Jardine, J. A. Secord and E. C. Spary (eds), Cultures of Natural History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  21. World Commission on Environment and Development: 1987, Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  22. Worster, Donald: 1977, 1992, Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and TechnologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations