Augsburg Fortress

Environment, Economy, and Christian Ethics: Alternative Views on Christians and Markets

Environment, Economy, and Christian Ethics: Alternative Views on Christians and Markets

What is to be done about the damaging impact of economic activity on the environment? In recent years, there has been growing debate over this question. This book, by an economist, urges Christians to support strong governmental and intergovernmental action to improve the workings of existing global economic systems so as to provide adequate environmental protection. As such, it draws on the tradition of mainstream environmental economics and on recent developments in “ecological economics.” But it acknowledges that environmental policy raises important ethical and theological issues often briefly or inadequately covered within economic literature: ethically responsible attitudes to uncertainty, inequality within and between generations, the rights of traditional communities, and the obligation to respect nonhuman elements within creation. To such issues, theologians of various persuasions have in the past paid more attention than economists.

At the same time, theologians have not always shown awareness of the likely economic consequences of their own proposals. In particular, some have been reluctant to acknowledge the role of market failure in causing environmental problems, while others are too eager to get rid of markets altogether. This book tries to develop sound ethical foundations for environmental policy, while providing concrete perspective on economic realities.
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451479645
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 278
  • Publication Date January 1, 2015


"Alistair Young's Environment, Economy, and Christian Ethics is a welcome addition to a subject area that is crying out for clarity of ideas as opposed to platitudes. The book's strengths lie not only in its comprehensive treatment of the alternative positions adopted by theologians and economists on the causes of environmental degradation, but also in its determination to analyze this problem from first principles in both economics and Christian theology. In doing so, it guides the reader away from simplistic analyses of these complex causes toward a more measured and pragmatic perspective on issues such as the role of market failure and the ethical foundation, often from a Christian context, of government interventions to deal with such failures. Economists and Christian theologians interested in environmental issues will find much to agree on in this book as they find common ground not only on the causes of environmental degradation but also on its possible solutions."
John Struthers
University of the West of Scotland

"This is a book that needs to be read by those interested in environmental issues irrespective of their religious faith and people who do not see themselves as holding a particularly religious view of the world. For Christians, the book presents the first exposition of the various Christian positions held regarding environmental degradation and how to deal with it. It is deliberately nontechnical, and the author has gone to tremendous lengths to clearly explain many of the more complex ideas from environmental and welfare economics for noneconomists. The author has drawn clear and logical threads connecting various Christian world views to globalization, corruption, and other key developments that may underpin the increasing concern for the environment. In particular, the analysis makes it clear that there is no single Christian ‘position’ on either the environment or the economy itself in terms of cause, effect, or solutions. One big advantage of this book is that each of its seven chapters can be read independently according to the readers’ particular interest which may be the idea of sustainability, ethical decision making, Christian activism on the environment, or policy prescriptions. Whichever way the reader approaches this new book, he or she will most certainly be engaged by the quality of exposition, the validity and fairness of the arguments, and the increasing importance of environmental economics to well-established theological ideologies in Christianity and beyond."
John Adams
The British University in Egypt
“This is a timely addition to the literature on how Christians can address and engage with issues arising from global environmental change. It deftly links ecological economics with eco-theology and demonstrates not only how one can inform the other but how jointly they can trigger changes in how we chose to live.”
Alan Werritty
Emeritus, University of Dundee