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Piketty and the Growth Dilemma Revisited in the Context of Ecological Economics

Jamie Morgan

Ecological Economics, 2017, vol. 136, issue C, 169-177

Abstract: Piketty's Capital has provoked considerable debate regarding inequality. The existence of increasing inequality creates a challenge for ecological economics. In this paper we set out some of the problems inherent in Piketty's approach and how they are addressed from the point of view of ecological economics. We use Jackson and Victor's response as a point of departure to make several points. Piketty's work involves an unreconciled inconsistency between his laws and the institutional context, which becomes problematic when one starts to think about ‘inevitability’. He simply assumes away ecological problems to make future forecasts for inequality. As such, his forecasts are undermined, since ecological issues are fundamental to any viable future economy. Furthermore, Piketty effectively reproduces (rather than contests) the mainstream practice of delegating ecological issues to a sub-discipline. Jackson and Victor, meanwhile, focus on the mainstream economic aspect of Piketty's work, and construct a model to contest a model. In so doing, they provide an ideational response to what is also a problem of ideological frameworks. Though it can be important to contest an idea, they inadvertently, through family resemblance, contribute to the reproduction of the problematic position of ecological concerns within dominant ways of conceiving economics.

Keywords: Piketty; Inequality; Degrowth; Methodology (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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