From Uneconomic Growth to a Steady-State Economy

From Uneconomic Growth to a Steady-State Economy

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Herman E. Daly

In this important book, Herman E. Daly lays bare the weaknesses of growth economics and explains why, in contrast, a steady-state economy is both necessary and desirable. Through the course of the book, Daly develops the basic concept and theory of a steady-state economy from the 1970s limits to growth debates. In doing so, he draws on work from the classical economists, through both conflicts and agreements with neo-classical and Keynesian economists, as well as recent debates on uneconomic growth.

Chapter 10: Ethics in relation to economics, ecology and eschatology

Herman E. Daly

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, environmental economics, environment, ecological economics


Ethics is the ordering of multiple ends into a hierarchy with reference to some vision of the Ultimate End, however dimly we perceive it. The ultimate end is that which is intrinsically good and does not derive its goodness by being instrumental to some other good. All other goods are instrumental to it indirectly and in varying degrees. Ethics is the problem of putting first things first, higher values ahead of lower values, and then, of course, acting according to that ordering of values in specific circumstances (Daly and Townsend, 1993, pp. 17–24). The specific circumstances may be medical, economic, familial, and so on, but the problem of ethics is basically the same – ethics is singular – knowing what goes in first place, second place, and so on, putting it there, and acting accordingly, with enough knowledge of how the world works to avoid perverse unintended consequences. If we had a clear vision of the ultimate end the process could be top-down, but often it is only in the bottom-up process of struggling to rank competing ends in specific situations that we get an insight into what the ultimate end must be like for our consciences to approve the decisions. We do not have a different ultimate end and hierarchy of purposes for each area of life.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information