Economics, Climate, and Values: An Integrated Approach
6 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2010
How can we integrate the role of values and ethics in economic analysis of climate change without sacrificing the positive aspirations of that science? Given the urgency of the measures required by climate change, economic analysis has never been as important as it is today. And given the necessity of value judgments in economic analyses of policy options, the tension between fact and value has never been more conspicuous. But while significant strides have recently been made in the understanding of both the inadequacy and impracticality of a fact/value dichotomy in scientific research, many in economics seem to continue to adhere to outmoded (and now clearly inappropriate) images of science. The net effect has been to undermine the usefulness of economic advice to policy makers.
The ideal of objectivity to which economists aspire needs to be reframed and broadened in ways that take advantage of new resources from the philosophy of science, environmental philosophy, and other social sciences. Ultimately, changes in the education of young economists, as well as in patterns of support for practicing economists will be necessary to effect a shift to an ideal of objectivity in which the role of values can be properly integrated.
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