Table of Contents

Beyond Uneconomic Growth

Beyond Uneconomic Growth

Economics, Equity and the Ecological Predicament

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Edited by Joshua Farley and Deepak Malghan

This engaging book brings together leading ecological economists to collectively present a definitive case for looking beyond economic growth as the sole panacea for the world’s ecological predicament. Grounded in physics, ecology, and the science of human behavior, contributors show how economic growth itself has become “uneconomic” and adds to a ravaging of both social and ecological cohesion.

Chapter 6: Toward a science-based theory of behavior: building on Georgescu-Roegen

John Gowdy

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, ecological economics


[T]he real output of the economic process (or of any life process, for that matter) is not the material flow of waste, but the still mysterious immaterial flux of the enjoyment of life. (Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, 1974 [1976], p. 9, emphases in original) Reality is infinitely various when compared to the deductions of abstract thought, even those that are most cunning, and it will not tolerate rigid, hard and fast distinctions. Reality strives for diversification. (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1986, part 2, chapter 7, p. 305) Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s contributions to economics have been widely recognized by the profession’s top theorists. Paul Samuelson (1967, p. vii) praised Georgescu-Roegen as ‘a scholar’s scholar, an economist’s economist.’ His Festschrift published in 1976 contained contributions by four Nobel laureates – John Hicks, Jan Tinbergen, Simon Kuznets and Paul Samuelson. Georgescu did not attract a large following of students, partly because of the growing dominance of Walrasian1 orthodoxy during the time he was at Vanderbilt University (1949–76) and partly because of his demanding personality. The lack of numbers, however, is offset by the quality of two of his students who went on to make internationally recognized contributions to economic science. One is Mohammad Yunus who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in microfinance for the world’s poorest, and the other is Herman Daly, winner of several major awards including the Heineken Prize and the Right Livelihoods Award, sometimes called the Alternative Nobel Prize.

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