The Deliberative Approach in Environmental Valuation

By Soderholm, Patrik | Journal of Economic Issues, June 2001 | Go to article overview

The Deliberative Approach in Environmental Valuation


Soderholm, Patrik, Journal of Economic Issues


How can and should decision makers collect information on public preferences and integrate public input into the environmental policy process? Since environmental issues often involve conflicts in values among goals that all of us consider important, there are no simple answers to this question. Environmental problems are not--indeed should not be--only about the efficient use of scarce resources but are also about ethical issues such as fairness in the decision-making process, the moral claims of non-humans and future generations, and cultural values (Sagoff 1988). Any meaningful decision-making institution must be able to incorporate different modes of articulating environmental concern.

For the above reasons some social science researchers have begun to question the use of neoclassical environmental valuation techniques, which in many cases are the ones preferred by the official authorities. Within the neoclassical paradigm a number of valuation methods--most notably the contingent valuation method (CVM)--are employed. All aim at measuring people's willingness to pay (WTP) for an environmental benefit or their willingness to accept (WTA) a change that is likely to reduce welfare. For critics, however, these methods rely on overly restrictive assumptions, which implies that they often produce poor descriptions of the environmental values people actually hold as well as of the process of preference formation (Spash 1997, 2000).

Most importantly, contingent valuation method approaches rely on the notion that individuals aim at maximizing personal utility and that they possess well-articulated, exogenous preferences for environmental "goods." However, environmental values often have a broad ethical content, and since ethics are a matter for argument, environmental valuation ought to be endogenous to the political process and rely on social agreements (e.g., Jacobs 1997). In other words, the initial challenge of environmental policy lies not in discovering private preferences but in specifying the conditions for public discourse over what is worth valuing and for what reason.

While many analysts question neoclassical value theory on these grounds, few have discussed the methodological implications of this critique. One interesting suggestion, however, is to rely on the literature on deliberative approaches to the formation of public values [1] and to move toward a discursive and jury-like research method. This method typically relies on so-called focus groups or citizens' juries in which lay people develop preferences about complex policy issues through informed discussion. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of such deliberative research methods in environmental policy decision making. The principal thesis of the analysis is that while deliberative approaches certainly contribute to a better understanding of the environmental values people hold, they should be considered a complement--rather than a substitute--for alternative valuation processes.

The Deliberative Attack on Neoclassical Environmental Valuation

The theory of neoclassical environmental economics is based on economic measures of human welfare, such as utility. People are assumed to seek to satisfy their private preferences, which are exogenously determined, complete, continuous, context independent, and ethically unchallengeable (Jacobs 1997). The environment is essentially treated as any other private commodity, and people are assumed to be willing to consider tradeoffs in relation to the quantity or quality of environmental goods. The change in the level of individual welfare resulting from an environmental change is measured as the amount of income necessary to maintain a constant level of utility before, and after, the change. Monetary estimates of environmental preferences can be obtained by simply asking people about their willingness to pay for an environmental benefit in a contingent valuation method survey. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Deliberative Approach in Environmental Valuation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.