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.
'If it is the job of philosophers to keep everyone else intellectually honest, Mark Sagoff is doing his job for environmental economists with persuasive logic and graceful writing. There are very few members of our profession who will be able to read this without feelings of embarrassment over how easily they have fallen into the traps and fallacies revealed in Sagoff's analysis. But even as they are chastened they will be entertained rather than lectured to. This is, in fact, a book that ought to be required reading in graduate school, before the socialization process has become nearly irreversible.' Clifford Russell, Vanderbilt University 'Price, Principle, and the Environment offers a critique of environmental economics that is suitable for students and professors in economics, environmental studies, science, and planning, as well as for the informed reader. ... Price, Principle, and the Environment is well written and a valuable contribution to further discussions in economics for environmental policy use.' Environment 'Sagoff writes well and the book is full of interesting anecdotes and case studies ... There is much of interest in this book ...' Economics and Philosophy