Price, Principle and the Environment

Mark Sagoff 
Cambridge University Press  November 2004  

Hardback  294 pages  ISBN 9780521837231      £59.00

Paperback  294 pages  ISBN 9780521545969      £21.00
Mark Sagoff has written an engaging and provocative book about the contribution economics can make to environmental policy. Sagoff argues that economics can be helpful in designing institutions and processes through which people can settle environmental disputes. However, he contends that economic analysis fails completely when it attempts to attach value to environmental goods. It fails because preference-satisfaction has no relation to any good. Economic valuation lacks data because preferences cannot be observed. Willingness to pay is benchmarked on market price and thus may reflect producer cost not consumer benefit. Moreover, economists cannot second-guess market outcomes because they have no better information than market participants. Mark Sagoff's conclusion is that environmental policy turns on principles that are best identified and applied through political processes. Written with verve and fluency, this book will be eagerly sought out by students and professionals in environmental policy as well as informed general readers.


1 Zuckerman's Dilemma: An Introduction 1
2 At the Monument to General Meade or On the Difference between Beliefs and Benefits 29
3 Should Preferences Count? 57
4 Value in Use and in Exchange or What Does Willingness to Pay Measure? 80
5 The Philosophical Common Sense of Pollution 101
6 On the Value of Wild Ecosystems 126
7 Carrying Capacity and Ecological Economics 154
8 Cows Are Better Than Condos or How Economists Help Solve Environmental Problems 177
9 The View from Quincy Library or Civic Engagement in Environmental Problem Solving 201

Notes 233

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Autumn 2004 : Cambridge University Press : economics : environmental science : sustainable development

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