New Foundations for Ecological Economics

Spash, Clive L. (2012) New Foundations for Ecological Economics. Ecological Economics, 77. pp. 36-47. ISSN 0921-8009


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Ecological economics has been repeatedly described as transdisciplinary and open to including everything from positivism to relativism. I argue for a revision and rejection of this position in favour of realism and reasoned critique. Looking into the ontological presuppositions and considering an epistemology appropriate for ecological economics to meaningfully exist requires rejecting the form of methodological pluralism which has been advocated since the start of this journal. This means being clear about the differences in our worldview (or paradigm) from others and being aware of the substantive failures of orthodox economics in addressing reality. This paper argues for a fundamental review of the basis upon which ecological economics has been founded and in so doing seeks improved clarity as to the competing and complementary epistemologies and methodologies. In part this requires establishing serious interdisciplinary research to replace superficial transdisciplinary rhetoric. The argument places the future of ecological economics firmly amongst heterodox economic schools of thought and in ideological opposition to those supporting the existing institutional structures perpetuating a false reality of the world's social, environmental and economic systems and their operation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: To see the final version of this paper please visit the publisher's website. Access to the published version requires a subscription. The definitive version is available at
Keywords: Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology, Ideology, Preanalytic vision, Interdisciplinarity, logical empiricism / constructivism / post-normal science / critical realism / ecological economics / pluralism
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Multi-Level Governance and Development
Version of the Document: Draft
Variance from Published Version: Minor
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2012 12:46
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2017 23:24
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