The Moral Economy of Growth and Markets: Chinese Narratives over two Millenia

The history of economic thought is written in a deeply Western-centric view. I recently consulted a volume of contributions to monetary theory before Adam Smith that only included European authors. But the first exposition of a theory of money and prices can be found in the Chinese text ‘Guanzi’ which combines different sources across five …

The Idea of ‘Co-evolutionary Technology’

Recently I collaborated with my Finnish colleagues Katriina Soini and Juha Hiedanpäa on fleshing out the idea of ‘co-evolutionary technology’. This builds on my earlier blogposts on technosystem services and nature-based solutions. Our launchpad is the critique of nature-based solutions, which are increasingly propagated as a panacea to meeting the problems of our times, especially …

Beyond ‘Nature-based Solutions’: The Concept of Co-creative Technology

A new journal has been launched: ‘Nature Based Solutions’. This raises the stakes for a concept that originally had no scientific status but emerged as a policy formula, similar to the earlier notion of ‘ecosystem services’. Ecological economics features many newly coined expressions that straddle the scientific and the policy communities, mainly because there is …

The need for emancipating ourselves from the work ethic of the Technosphere

Recently, I read the book The Birth of Energy. Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, Energy & the Politics of Work by Cara New Daggett. This is a fascinating analysis of the role of thermodynamics as a worldview in the 19th century colonial and imperial expansion of capitalism. The linkage between science and ideology runs via Protestantism, with …

Why technological progress is a delusion and how can get rid of it

Economists and many others are deeply convinced that there is technological progress. Technological progress is a defining idea of Western modernity, originating from the Enlightenment. This is also recognized in the most comprehensive and apparently conclusive account of progress, Pinker’s book ‘Enlightenment Now’. So, it seems insane denying that there is technological progress. Yet, the …

Anthropocentric ecosystem services versus geocentric technosystem services

In previous posts I have argued against the flawed anthropocentrism of the ecosystem services concept. But what is the alternative? How can we practically achieve a geocentric turn? Literally, that would mean that we reverse the direction of functional analysis. In the ecosystem concept, we ask what ecosystems do for us. Now we might ask …

Saving the Biosphere or Saving by the Biosphere? The Thermodynamics of Negative Interest Rates

A decade ago, the German economist Carl Christian von Weizsäcker mused that the phenomenon of declining opportunities for profitable investments that is behind the trend towards declining interest rates might reflect the Second Law of thermodynamics, in the sense that the more capital we accumulate, the more we must struggle to keep it in order, …

The Evolutionary Epistemology of the Technosphere

Technology and science are deeply interwoven. Often, this is interpreted in terms of scientific progress driving the emergence of new technologies. But historians of science have always emphasized the fact that science is also enabled by technology that is generated outside the epistemic venture of science. For example, artisanal advances in watchmaking contributed to the …

Is Anthropocentrism Good Science? Why Sir Partha Got It Wrong

In these days, the ‘Dasgupta Review' receives much attention in policy circles and news reports. The Review pursues the laudable goal to include environmental concerns into economics and to show economic strategies for putting biodiversity at the centre of our efforts to cope with the challenge of climate change. The Review submits many important suggestions, …