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Environ Monit Assess. 2003 Jul-Aug;86(1-2):63-74.

Between economics and ecology: some historical and philosophical considerations for modelers of natural capital.

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Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Natural capital models attempt to remediate the relationship between economics and ecology either by conjoining models and theories from each discipline or by finding a type of phenomena that can be meaningfully measured by both fields. The development of a widely accepted model that integrates economics and ecology has eluded researchers since the early 1970s. This paper offers an historical and philosophical perspective on some of the conceptual problems or obstacles that hinder the development of natural capital models. In particular, the disciplinary assumptions of economic science and ecological science are examined and it is argued that these assumptions are antithetical. Hence, the development of an effective and accepted natural capital model will require that economics and ecology reconsider their self-conceptions as sciences. For the purposes of theoretical research and practical policy, the paper cautions against confusing the issue of whether or not economic models accord with ecological models with the issue of whether or not economic activities accord with ecological realities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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