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Tuesday, July 26 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Bringing Forth the Ecological Economy

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2884 This paper looks at the development of Ecological Economic theory through the lens of second-order cybernetics. Ecological Economics aims to integrate Ecological and Economic disciplines while maintaining their distinction. This is required for the concept of “scale” which relates the size of the ecosystem with the size of the economy. Beyond the dynamic and complicated nature of these systems; this task is also conceptually difficult. How can the ecosystem be part of the economy but also distinct from it? How can the economic system be part of the ecosystem and also distinct? Which is the correct framing? While Ecological Economics was conceived in the era of “open systems” and “sub-systems”, second order systems theory may shed light on the paradoxes which naturally arise from this perspective. As second-order systems theory would suggest, this fundamental paradox of observation results in a circularity. This circularity can be illustrated by attempts within Ecological Economics to generate definitions of sustainability; most notoriously through valuation of ecosystem services but also within alternative social and ecologically based models. This yields a tension between a desire for objectivity and submission to relativity. Thus, authors within the field are calling for clarity regarding ontological and epistemological commitments. Second-order systems theory operates within this territory even if it does so on its own terms. By embracing this circularity with second-order cybernetics, a few possibilities open up. Primarily, it is my interest that the “organization” of the Ecological Economy be considered; such that the diversity of activities which considered within the domain of Ecological Economics become coordinated. As a student of both Ecological Economics and systems theory, I have been fascinated by the ongoing efforts within Ecological Economics to construct a perspective. This offers a great example of recursive cybernetics with natural tensions between variety and order.

avatar for David Rousseau

David Rousseau

Founder & Managing Director, Centre for Systems Philosophy
SIG Chair: Research Towards a General Theory of Systems | SIG Chair: Systems Philosophy | | Dr. David Rousseau is the Founder and Managing Director of the Centre for Systems Philosophy, which promotes the use of Systems Philosophy as a methodology for addressing problems that require... Read More →

Tuesday July 26, 2016 4:00pm - 4:30pm
ECCR 200