Comments on paper by Richard O. Zerbe, Jr.

Pages173-175
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-5895(02)20008-1
Date15 August 2002
Publication Date15 August 2002
AuthorAndreas Kontoleon
COMMENTS ON PAPER BY
RICHARD O. ZERBE, JR.
Andreas Kontoleon
Zerbe offers a very insightful contribution to the issues surrounding the inclusion
of moral sentiments in environmental decision making. The paper introduces a
variant of the Kaldors-Hicks criterion to better accommodate such values in
economic analysis. It concludes that moral sentiments (such as various forms
of altruism) should be included in normative economic analysis since their
inclusion is beneficial both to the quality and accuracy of the analysis but also
to our understanding of issues in environmental economics. For example, Zerbe
shows how confusions and criticisms regarding the use of discounting in
economic analysis could be mitigated and addressed by sufficient recognition
of future values, interpreted as a form of intergenerational altruism.
Zerbe's offers a comprehensive discussion of the various attacks on the
inclusion of moral sentiments that have been raised by economists and other
theorists. His analysis of the "double-counting" argument (that economic
analysis should not include non-paternalistic or 'pure' altruistic preferences)
provides an altemative view to that held by welfare theorists such as McConnell
(1997). Yet, the discussion is limited and could be generalised to address views
held by other economists which utilise micro-welfare foundations to show under
what conditions various types of altruistic preference are compatible with
economic analysis (for example views expressed in Johansson, 1992; Jones-
Lee, 1992; Johansson-Stenman, 1998).
In addition, the arguments raised by an increasing number of authors
(for example Blarney, 1998; Spash, 2000) on the 'legitimacy' of using moral
sentiments in economic analysis could be addressed. The common core of
An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Environmental Policy: Issues in Institutional
Design, Volume 20, pages 173-175.
© 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
ISBN: 0-7623-0888-5
173

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