Weak comparability of values as a foundation for ecological economics

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The main argument of this paper is that weak comparability of values should be seen as one characteristic feature of ecological economics. The format properties of the concepts of strong comparability (implying strong or weak commensurability) and weak comparability (implying incommensurability) will be clarified. Multicriteria evaluation offers the methodological and mathematical tools to operationalize the concept of incommensurability at both macro and micro levels of analysis. The concept of incommensurability of values already has a long tradition in economics; moreover, we will show that analytic philosophy, theories of complexity, post-normal science and the recent theories of rationality lead with different trajectories to a non-algorithmic approach which, in our view, could be implemented by some forms of multicriteria evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-286
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1998


  • Compensabitity
  • Ecological economics
  • Incommensurability
  • Multicriteria evaluation
  • Sustainability
  • Values


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