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Price, Principle and the Environment

By: Mark Sagoff

284 pages, no illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Nov 2004 | #149061 | ISBN: 052154596X
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £22.99 $30/€26 approx

About this book

Sagoff argues that economics can be helpful in designing institutions and processes through which people can settle environmental disputes. However, he contends that economic analysis fails completely when it attempts to attach value to environmental goods. It fails because preference-satisfaction has no relation to any good. Economic valuation lacks data because preferences cannot be observed. Willingness to pay is benchmarked on market price and thus may reflect producer cost not consumer benefit. Moreover, economists cannot second-guess market outcomes because they have no better information than market participants. Mark Sagoff's conclusion is that environmental policy turns on principles that are best identified and applied through political processes.

'If it is the job of philosophers to keep everyone else intellectually honest, Mark Sagoff is doing his job for environmental economists with persuasive logic and graceful writing. There are very few members of our profession who will be able to read this without feelings of embarrassment over how easily they have fallen into the traps and fallacies revealed in Sagoff's analysis. But even as they are chastened they will be entertained rather than lectured to. This is, in fact, a book that ought to be required reading in graduate school, before the socialization process has become nearly irreversible.' Clifford Russell, Vanderbilt University 'Price, Principle, and the Environment offers a critique of environmental economics that is suitable for students and professors in economics, environmental studies, science, and planning, as well as for the informed reader. ! Price, Principle, and the Environment is well written and a valuable contribution to further discussions in economics for environmental policy use.' Environment 'Sagoff writes well and the book is full of interesting anecdotes and case studies ! There is much of interest in this book !' Economics and Philosophy


1. Zuckerman's dilemma: an introduction; 2. At the monument to General Meade; 3. Should preferences count?; 4. Value in use and in exchange; 5. The philosophical common sense of pollution; 6. On the value of wild ecosystems; 7. Carrying capacity and ecological economics; 8. Cows are better than condos; 9. The view from Quincy library.

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Mark Sagoff is Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park.

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