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How We Come to Value Nature? - A Pragmatist Perspective

Taru Peltola and Isabelle Arpin

Ecological Economics, 2017, vol. 142, issue C, 12-20

Abstract: Valuation studies have been mobilized to demonstrate the importance of nature to society and to incorporate concerns about nature into decision making. Although increasingly popular in ecosystem service research, such studies have also been criticized. In particular, tensions between the assumptions of valuation methods and the real-life processes of valuing have been identified. This article argues that a process-based, pragmatist approach to valuing helps to evaluate the relevance of valuation studies results. Pragmatism proposes a focus on activities through which people come to value natural elements in their everyday life rather than on the outcomes of valuing processes. Using this approach we examine three empirical cases: 1) restoration of natural springs in Finland; 2) protection of the bearded vulture in the French Alps; and 3) management of urban biodiversity in the City of Grenoble, France. Through these cases we demonstrate how nature's value to people emerges from commonplace ways of engaging with natural elements, such as domestication, inheriting and community building. We conclude by discussing the usefulness of acknowledging this kind of processes in nature conservation.

Keywords: Valuation; Ecosystem services; Pragmatism; Modes of valuing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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