Handbook of Ecological Economics
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Handbook of Ecological Economics

Edited by Joan Martínez-Alier and Roldan Muradian

This Handbook provides an overview of major current debates, trends and perspectives in ecological economics. It covers a wide range of issues, such as the foundations of ecological economics, deliberative methods, the de-growth movement, ecological macroeconomics, social metabolism, environmental governance, consumer studies, knowledge systems and new experimental approaches. Written by leading authors in their respective areas of specialisation, the contributions systematize the “state of the art” in the selected topics, and draw insights about new knowledge frontiers.
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Chapter 3: Analytical philosophy and ecological economics

John O’Neill and Thomas Uebel


Analytical philosophy has had a long but little noted influence on the development of ecological economics. The work of the left Vienna Circle, in particular of Otto Neurath, defended two central claims of ecological economics: first, economics needs to address the various ways in which economic institutions and relations are embedded within the physical world and have ecological preconditions that are a condition of their sustainability; second, reasonable economic and social choices cannot be founded on purely monetary valuations. Both of these claims were developed in two distinct but related debates that Otto Neurath engaged in. The first was the socialist calculation debate. The arguments of the Austrian critics of the possibility of socialism there, in particular Ludwig Mises and Friedrich Hayek, were aimed not only at socialism but at these two central claims of ecological economics. The second was the little known debate between the left Vienna Circle and the Frankfurt School in the 1930s. In this debate one can discern the origins of two distinct traditions of political ecology that still remain in tension in subsequent debates: a science-based approach that is concerned with the material and ecological conditions for human well-being and social relationships; and a science-sceptical approach that takes the environmental crisis to be founded in a technocratic commitment to the domination of humans and nature that is built into the constitution of scientific reason.

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