Ecological Economists: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

H. Levrel & Vincent Martinet (Paris-Saclay Applied Economics, INRAE, AgroParisTech)



Levrel H., Martinet V., 2021
Clive Spash proposes a classification of ecological economists in three camps, “social ecological economists” (SEE), “new resource economists” (NRE), and “new environmental pragmatists” (NEP). Even if this classification describes the communities of the field and their main scientific strategies with an intuitive perspective, we have three concerns with it. First, this classification is more a normative view of what Spash thinks ecological economics should be rather than a positive description of the field; SEE are presented as the “good” ecological economists, whereas NRE are depicted as “bad” neoclassical economists, and NEP as “ugly” environmentalists ready to use economic tools and concepts to serve ecological conservation purpose. Next, it seems to us that the classification is not based on a so clear epistemic criterion, leading to blind spots and double belongings, especially for transdisciplinary works, concepts, and models. It also underestimates the role of the scientific ecology in the field. Finally, it appears to us that this description of what should be a genuine ecological economist leads to delegitimize methodological and conceptual pluralism in the field and the journal Ecological Economics.