Environmental Dilemmas and Policy Design
Huib Pellikaan, Robert J. van der Veen
Cambridge University Press
According to the logic of collective action, mere awareness of the causes of
environmental degradation will not motivate rational agents to reduce pollution. Yet some
government policies aim to enlist citizens in schemes of voluntary cooperation, drawing on
an ethos of collective responsibility. Are such policies doomed to failure? This book provides
a novel application of rational choice theory to a large-scale survey of environmental attitudes
in The Netherlands. Its main findings are that rational citizens are motivated to cooperate
towards a less polluted environment to a large extent, but that their willingness to assume
responsibility depends on the social context of the collective action problem they face. This
empirical study is an important volume in the development of a more consistent foundation for
rational choice theory in policy analysis, which seeks to clarify major theoretical issues
concerning the role of moral commitment, self-interest and reciprocity in environmental
Hardback 262 pp, 25diags, 28 tabs ISBN 9780521621564
Paperback 262 pp, 25diags, 28 tabs ISBN 9780521627641
Preface; Part I. Background: 1. Environmental pollution as a problem of collective action;
1.1. Can something be done?; 1.2. Environmental dilemmas and the logic of collective action;
1.3. Surveying environmental dilemmas from the actor€s perspective: rational choice; 1.4.
How motives speak to preferences; 1.5. Non-equivalent dilemmas and reported behaviour;
1.6. Policies of self regulation in the Netherlands; 1.7. Moral commitment in environmental
dilemmas: conditional or unconditional?; 1.8. Determinants of cooperation in environmental
dilemmas and policy design; 2. A Dutch approach: self regulation as a policy concept; 2.1.
Introduction; 2.2. Dutch environmental policy and the idea of self regulation; 2.3. The
social instruments; 2.4. An environmental ethos and the social dilemma; 2.5. Self regulation:
compliance-oriented or virtue-based?; 3. The actor€s perspective on collective action; 3.1.
The subjectivity of the actor in rational choice theory; 3.2. Problems of collective action; 3.3.
Social dilemmas; 3.4. The actor€s perspective; Part II. The Survey: 4. Preference orderings
and measurement; 4.1. Three potential social dilemmas; 4.2. Measuring preference orderings;
4.3. Three different environmental problems; 4.4. Avoiding response effects; 5. Rational
choice; 5.1. Conditions of rational choice; 5.2. The dominance rule of rational choice; 5.3.
Choice of strategy; 5.4. The robustness of the dominance rule; 5.5. Conclusion; 6.
Consistency of motives and preferences; 6.1. A model of reasoned choice; 6.2. The
motives of Valuation and Willingness; 6.3. The test of consistent preferences; 6.4.
Consistent preferences in the three cases; 6.5. Does motive-preference consistency matter?;
6.6. Conclusion; 7. The non-equivalence of the cases; 7.1. Hard and easy cases of the
dilemma; 7.2. The model of the hardest case; 7.3. The scalability of the cases; 7.4.
Conclusion; 8. Reported behaviour; 8.1. Determinants of behaviour; 8.2. The
sociocultural model; 8.3. An alternative model; 8.4. From motives to behaviour;
Part III. Conclusions: Theory and Policy: 9. Do people accept self regulation policy?; 9.1.
Introduction to Part III; 9.2. Acceptance and agreement; 9.3. The acceptance of legal
regulation and self regulation; 9.4. Conclusion; 10. Do people agree with the environmental
ethos?; 10.1. Introduction; 10.2. The two stages of the environmental ethos; 10.3. Knaves,
pawns or knights?; 10.4. The ethical interpretation of motives and preferences; 10.5. The
agreement response; 10.6. Acceptance and agreement: overview; 11. Moral commitment
and rational cooperation; 11.1. Ranking preference orderings; 11.2. The meta-ranking
approach; 11.3. Enlightened self-interest and moral commitment; 11.4. Consistent
preferences in the meta-ranking; 11.5. An environmental meta-ranking; 12. Reciprocity
and cooperation in environmental dilemmas; 12.1. The puzzle of unconditional cooperation;
12.2. The reciprocity thesis; 12.3. Cost of cooperation and conditionalities in environmental
dilemmas; 13. Assessing self regulation policies; 13.1. The context of environmental
dilemmas; 13.2. Consistent ethical cooperation; 13.3. Background features of hard and
easy cases; 13.4. Mapping problems and the salience of the environmental ethos; 13.5.
Individual cost and collective gain; 13.6. Comparing motives in the polar cases; 13.7. The
dimension of private significance; 13.8. Self regulation policy: symbolic or real?; 13.9. A
non-moralistic approach to environmental responsibility; 13.10. Self regulation in proportion
to facilitation; Bibliography; Index.
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