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Chapter 79: Integration and Communication between Environmental Economics and other Disciplines (J.L.R. Proops)
79 Integration and communication between enviFonmenta1 economics and other disciplines John L.R. Proops 1. Introduction As a social science economics lies at the interface between the natural sciences and the humanities. For example, to analyse the extraction of natural resources, the subsequent production and consumption of goods, and the effects of these activities on the environment, one needs some knowledge of natural science. Similarly, to understand the motivations that inform the decisions of entrepreneurs and consumers, one has to be acquainted with the humanities. I consider it to be significant that classical economics was founded by Adam Smith, who held a chair in moral philosophy; consequently, ethics had a fundamental role in Smith’s economics. Further, at its foundation, modern (neoclassical) economics was strongly influenced by Newtonian mechanics, through the natural science backgrounds of Walras, Jevons and Pareto. This, in turn, has led to the emphasis on mathematical formalism we see in modern neoclassical analyses, where economics has been abstracted, even divorced, from its philosophical and natural science roots. This divorce also holds, to some degree, for environmental economics, which largely derives its concepts and methods from the neoclassical paradigm. (This has led to the emergence of ecological economics, which endeavours to establish communication between environmental economics and other disciplines.) Hence, almost by definition, environmental economics cannot exist as a purely ‘economics’ discipline. Its subject matter is the relationship between human activity and the natural world, so not only is familiarity with the principles of modern economics a prerequisite for its...
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