chapter  8
37 Pages

The environment and economic thought

This chapter takes up some historical themes discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 as the starting point for an examination of the relationship between economic thought and the environment. The reason for focusing on economic thought is defended on the grounds that, first, economic thought is a form of social theory. Different forms of economic thought are premised on particular analyses of society and views on alternative social arrangements. Second, different forms of economic theory are based on particular moral principles, including views and conceptions of human nature and the value of the nonhuman world. Third, and this will form the bulk of this chapter, of all forms of social theorising, economics has had the

most influence on both how the environment and social-environmental interaction has been conceptualised. Fourth, and following on from the last, economic thought has had (and continues to have) a dominant position within prevailing political and economic institutions which mediate and shape the actual, material relationship between society and environment.