The Dilemma of Environmental Valuation: Ethics and U.S. Policy

By Sheldon Gen.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Market transactions often exert negative externalities on the natural environment. To better capture the values of environmental resources in market economies, methods of environmental valuation have been honed and used to internalize such externalities (for example, see Freeman, 2003). However, the valuation methods capture varying aspects of the full spectrum of values that are found in the environment, and do so with varying levels of reliability (Gen, 2004). Thus, values for environmental resources are either absent from transactions, narrowly included, or unreliably measured. This paper articulates this dilemma of environmental valuation and presents a critique of it through the lens of environmental ethics. It finds that while progress has been made in capturing anthropocentric values, biocentric aspects of environmental values and moral consideration remain absent. However, promising new directions in decision analysis and public policy may fill this gap.

Keywords: Environmental Valuation, Environmental Ethics, United States, Policy

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.133-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.196MB).

Dr. Sheldon Gen

Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA

Dr. Sheldon Gen is an associate professor of public administration at San Francisco State University, U.S. He studies human behavioral aspects of public policy, including how people shape policies and how they respond to them. This interest stems from his prior public service career in several American government and nonprofit agencies. His research has been published in journals related to public policy, public administration, environmental policy, and education. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly, a M.P.A. degree in public administration from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. degree in public policy from Georgia Tech. He is also an alumnus of the U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship and the U.S. Peace Corps.

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