Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics
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Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

On the Foundations of Environmental Policy

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller

This groundbreaking book takes a fresh look at how environmental problems emerge from economic activity and how they may be addressed in a responsible and sustainable manner. At its centre is the concept of joint production. This captures the phenomenon whereby several effects necessarily emerge from one activity and whereby human action always entails unintended consequences. This, according to the authors, is the structural cause behind modern-day environmental problems.
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Chapter 14: Responsibility in Politics and in the Economy

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller


with Thomas Petersen In the previous chapter, we have differentiated four types of responsibility. We have pointed out that political-ethical responsibility is the most comprehensive one. This kind of responsibility is therefore potentially the most relevant for giving guidance when facing unintended joint products which fall outside the social and legal order. The question thus arises who bears this kind of responsibility, and what are the necessary attributes for someone to be able to do so. It is obvious that the standard conception of an individual as an economic agent (homo economicus) is not suitable to systematically characterise such a person. In this chapter, we shall argue that an individual who is to bear responsibility can, in particular, be conceptualised on the basis of the homo politicus hypothesis. To homo politicus, responsibility is to be ascribed as a virtue. On the basis of this argument, perspectives for environmental politics under the conditions of joint production can then be outlined. Thereby, special significance falls on the relationship between the responsibility of the economic agent and that of the politician. 14.1 Political-Ethical Responsibility and the Homo Politicus Political-ethical responsibility, being the most comprehensive form of responsibility, places the highest demands on somebody to bear this kind of responsibility. Yet, how is such a political individual to be conceptualised, who is capable of living up to political-ethical responsibility? In earlier work, we have argued that the political individual is to be conceived of as a homo politicus (Faber et al. 1997,...

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