Substantive Economics and Avoiding False Dichotomies in Advancing Social Ecological Economics

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper

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The proposal has been put forward that ecological economics seek to become substantive
economics (Gerber and Scheidel 2018). This raises important issues about the content and
direction of ecological economics. The division of economics into either substantive or
formal derives from the work of Karl Polanyi. In developing his ideas Polanyi employed a
definition from Menger and combined this with Tönnies theory of historical evolution. In this
paper I explore why the resulting substantive vs. formal dichotomy is problematic. In
particular the article exposes the way in which trying to impose this dichotomy on history of
economic thought and epistemology leads to further false dichotomies. Besides Polanyi, the
positions of other important thinkers informing social ecological economics (SEE) are
discussed including Neurath, Kapp and Georgescu-Roegen. The aim is to clarify the future
direction of ecological economics and the role, in that future, of ideas raised under the topic of
substantive economics.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna
PublisherWU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameSRE - Discussion Papers

WU Working Paper Series

  • SRE - Discussion Papers

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