Pluralism and Integration? A Systematic Review of Ecological Economics Methodological Foundations

26 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2024

See all articles by Max-Friedemann Kretschmer

Max-Friedemann Kretschmer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

John-Oliver Engler

University of Vechta

Henrik von Wehrden

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Julius Rathgens

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Joe Ament

University of Vermont

Abstract

For years, Ecological Economics has spent many resources on research-paradigmatic conflicts. The resulting lack of methodological alignment and consistency creates transaction cost, divides the research community and undermines the paradigmatic agreement needed in solving real-world problems. We empirically investigate the methodological divide in the journal Ecological Economics as claimed by Clive Spash (2013, 2020). Building on a multivariate statistical full-text analysis of all empirical research papers published in the journal Ecological Economics in the period 1989-2021 (N = 3,972), we employ and discuss different perspectives on the normativity of methods. While our results confirm the existence of different methodological camps, a third of publications is not encompassed by Spash`s metaphor of ‘three camps’. We argue that methodological choices not only encompass assumptions about epistemological views but also an underlying philosophical stance on how we ought to act. Building on the work of Parfit (2011), we conclude that methodological reflection in EE needs to combine  (1) Consequentialism, (2) Deontology and (3) Contractualism, in particular concerning the methodological design principles that can help unite the field. We highlight two practical challenges for EE to over-come, namely the lack of governance structures and data on the performativity of methods.

Keywords: Philosophy of Science, methodological pluralism, Big tent, Socio ecological economics, systematic review, epistemology, Ontology

Suggested Citation

Kretschmer, Max-Friedemann and Engler, John-Oliver and von Wehrden, Henrik and Rathgens, Julius and Ament, Joe, Pluralism and Integration? A Systematic Review of Ecological Economics Methodological Foundations. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4744770 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4744770

Max-Friedemann Kretschmer (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

John-Oliver Engler

University of Vechta ( email )

Henrik Von Wehrden

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Julius Rathgens

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Joe Ament

University of Vermont ( email )

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