Ecological Economics and Philosophy of Science: Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology and Ideology

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper


Ecological economics has been repeatedly described as transdisciplinary and open to
including everything from positivism to relativism. I argue for a revision and rejection of this
position in favour of realism and reasoned critique. Looking into the ontological
presuppositions and considering an epistemology appropriate for ecological economics to
meaningfully exist requires rejecting the form of methodological pluralism which has been
advocated since the start of this journal. This means being clear about the differences in our
worldview (or paradigm) from others and being aware of the substantive failures of orthodox
economics in addressing reality. This paper argues for a fundamental review of the basis
upon which ecological economics has been founded and in so doing seeks improved clarity as
to the competing and complementary epistemologies and methodologies. In part this requires
establishing serious interdisciplinary research to replace superficial transdisciplinary rhetoric.
The argument places the future of ecological economics firmly amongst heterodox economic
schools of thought and in ideological opposition to those supporting the existing institutional
structures perpetuating a false reality of the world's social, environmental and economic
systems and their operation. (author's abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna
PublisherWU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameSRE - Discussion Papers

WU Working Paper Series

  • SRE - Discussion Papers

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