CHRISTIAN ECONOMISTS, ENVIRONMENTAL EXTERNALITIES AND ECOLOGICAL SCALE

Philosophia Reformata

The environmental economic response to mainstream neo-classical economics’ disconnect from the natural world was to value external environmental costs and include those into decisions about human welfare. The ecological economic response, heavily influenced by systems ecology, brought the concept of ecological scale or carrying capacity, as a limit to human choice. The divisions between these two theories are not merely cosmetic as illustrated by the highpolitical stakes in recent economic and environmental debates. This article concerns itself specifically with the question how Christian economists position themselves towards the unfolding ecological and economic crises. It is shown that the main positions taken in the policy debates on economy and ecology are closely mirrored in the broader Christian economic community, raising the question whether the Christian economic tradition does have anything particular to offer in response to the ecological and economic crises. We approach this question from two angles, first, reviewing the literature on an earlier debate by the Association of Christian Economists on what Christian economists should be doing and, second, reviewing the literature on the relationships between Christianity and environmental beliefs and behaviour. With reference to eco-theological literature on the varying theological views on the relationship between humanity and the rest of creation, and on different expectations of the eschaton, it is shown why such diverging positions are taken among Christian economists. Nevertheless, the objective reality of Jesus Christ demands a particular Christian ethics and behaviour, which in turn, kindles fertile questions for Christian economists in their practical engagement withthe economic and ecological sciences and with broader culture.

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