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1994 (16) Heft 2

Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse und Umweltgüter / Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Environment

 


Abstracts | Inhalt | Editorial

John Broome
Structured and Unstructured Valuation

Abstract: Economists can value things for cost-benefit analysis using either a structured or an unstructured approach. The first imposes some theoretical structure on the valuation; the second does not. This paper explains the difference between the approaches and examines the relative merits of each. Cost-benefit analysis may be aimed at finding what would be the best action, or alternatively at finding which action should be done in a democracy. The paper explains the difference, and argues that the appropriate aim is the first. Given that, it comes down in favour of the structured approach to valuation. As an example, it discusses different approaches to valuing life in economics.

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John Foster
Beyond Costs and Benefits: Weighing Environmental Goods

Abstract: A teleological approach to deciding how we should act underlies the attempted extension of neo-classical economics to environmental issues, with its emphasis on comparative valuation in monetary terms. Such an extension fails because, in the environmental sphere, there are powerful reasons for denying commensurability of the relevant values. But this denial then tends to undercut any weighing of environmental goods. In response to this difficulty, the paper seeks to develop an account of the weighing of goods which would enable us to recognise value as a human creation, while also grounding it in an ecological unity with the wider life of nature.

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Anna Kusser
Comment on John Foster

Abstract: Modern environmental thought is characterized by a paradox. The value of environmental goods seems to transcend all purely human values. At the same time environmental goods have to be placed within an overall ranking if there is to be rational environmental policy. It is argued that John Foster's concept of value-judgement cannot solve this paradox.

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Peter Schaber
Sind alle Werte vergleichbar? Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse und das Inkommensurabilitätsproblem

Abstract: Are the values of different options and goods, as cost-benefit analysis assumes, commensurable? Not always. The incommensurability of certain options is based on the fact that preferences are sometimes not rankable, even if the agent is fully informed about the options in question. In addition, even if all values were commensurable they could not be compared in monetary terms. If this is the case, cost-benefit analysis should not be seen as a decision procedure.

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Douglas MacLean
Cost-Benefit Analysis and Procedural Values

Abstract: One argument against using cost-benefit analysis to justify policies aimed at promoting human life and health or protecting the environment is that it requires putting a price on priceless goods. This distorts the value of these goods, and it can affect their value by cheapening them. This argument might be rejected by a moral consequentialist who believes that a rational agent should always be able to reflect on his values, even priceless goods, and assess their costs and their importance. This article defends the argument against cost-benefit analysis and suggests that a proper understanding of priceless goods shows that they also raise difficulties for consequentialist moral theories.

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Anton Leist
Comment on Douglas MacLean

Abstract: Some goods cannot, according to MacLean, be dealt with adequately by cost-benefit analysis. An explanation for this thesis is given, linking these goods to the altruism implied in intimate social relations. MacLean's argument is then shown to be insufficient when extended to matters of public relevance. The integration of political values and economic costs should be possible, on a level doing justice to both.

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Clive L. Spash
Trying to Find the Right Approach to Greenhouse Economics. Some Reflections upon the Role of Cost-Benefit Analysis

Abstract: The approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions suggested by simple neo-classical economic models has appeared in prominent mainstream journals. This entails weighing up the costs of control compared to the benefits of avoiding damages due to global climate change. This paper presents a critique of extending the microeconomic project based methodology to a complex global problem; raising issues of uncertainty and ignorance. An alternative to simple utilitarianism is seen to be necessary and the potential of a deontological approach is argued to be greater with regard to policy decisions concerning future generations.

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Georg Erdmann
Comment on Clive L. Spash

Abstract: The basic message put forward by Spash is sound, namely that cost-benefit analysis (CBA) can hardly be used to address the question of how much money society should optimally spend in order to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the points in Spash's paper against the use of CBA for the GHG assessment vary in their significance.

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John O'Neill
Preferences, Virtues, and Institutions

Abstract: Public choice theory presents itself as a new institutional economics that rectifies the failure of the neo-classical tradition to treat the institutional dimension of economics. It offers criticism of both neo-classical defenders of cost-benefit analysis and their environmental critics. Both assume the existence of benign political actors. While sharing some of its scepticism about this assumption, this paper argues that the public choice perspective is flawed. The old institutionalism of classical economics provides a better perspective to examine both explanatory and normative problems occasioned by environmental problems than does the new institutionalism, raising significant questions about the relationship between environmental goods, virtues and institutions which have been lost to recent discussion.

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Rudolf Schüßler
Comment on John O'Neill

Abstract: The comment focusses on O,Neills advocacy of Classical Institutionalism (CI) and the problems of the ideal-regarding approach to the construction of institutions. It maintains that CI shows no signs of progress which would justify a renewed exclusive interest in this paradigm and that the ideal-regarding approach needs some consequentialist balancing to avoid obvious risks of totalitarian denaturation.

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