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Environmental Values

The Environment as a Commodity

Arild Vatn

Environmental Values 9(2000): 493-509. doi: 10.3197/096327100129342173

This paper addresses problems related to transferring market concepts to non-market domains. More specifically it is about fallacies following from the use of the commodity concept in environmental valuation studies. First of all, the standard practice tends to misconstrue the ethical aspects related to environmental choices by forcing them into becoming ordinary trade-off problems. Second, the commodity perspective ignores important technical interdependencies within the environment and the relational character of environmental goods. These are all properties that have made many such goods escape the commoditisation pressure of markets in the first place. Further, it is shown that these interdependencies are the source of some of the ethical dilemmas observed. Finally, inherent characteristics of the environment tend to make the concept of the margin, so indispensable to economic calculus, either difficult or irrelevant to define. The commodity 'fiction' twists the perception of the environment from systems preservation to items use or transformation. This is a problem of increased importance as we approach potential systems perturbations.


KEYWORDS: Economic theory, environmental ethics, systems theory, valuation

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Natura economica in Environmental ValuationKatrine Soma

Exchange Relationships and the Environment: The Acceptability of Compensation in the Siting of Waste Disposal Facilities. Edmundo Claro

Non-Market Coordination: Towards an Ecological Response to Austrian Economics. Dan Greenwood

Value Theory in Ecological Economics: The Contribution of a Political Economy of Wealth. Ali Douai

Valuation Contests over the Commoditisation of the Moabi Tree in South-Eastern Cameroon. Sandra Veuthey and Jean-Françla;ois Gerber

Landscape Democracy, Three Sets of Values, and the Connoisseur Method.Finn Arler and Helena Mellqvist


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