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A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth Paperback – September 1, 2002

2.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Advocates of ‘sustainable development’ are unlikely to be convinced by all these claims; but they will learn a great deal." -- Cass R. Sunstein, Distinguished Service Professor, law school and department of political science, University of Chicago

"Anyone who believes that ‘sustainable development’ is a meaningful intellectual construct needs to read this clear and concise book." -- Robert Nelson, professor of public affairs, University of Maryland

"Sustainable development has become a shield for special-interest arguments. Beckerman’s careful critique points out [its] crucial ethical and economic shortcomings." -- P.J. Hill, chair of economics, Wheaton College

"We now have an excellent book which carefully examines [the philosophical and scientific underpinnings of ‘sustainable development.’]" -- Donald H. Stedman, professor of chemistry, University of Denver

"Wilfred Beckerman brings wisdom and wit to his examination of major themes found in today’s environmental policy." -- Bruce Yandle, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Economics, Clemson University

About the Author

Wilfred Beckerman is an emeritus fellow of Balliol College at Oxford University. Dr. Beckerman is an economist and the author of many academic articles and several books including In Defence of Economic Growth, Small is Stupid and most recently Justice, Posterity and the Environment (with J. Pasek). Dr. Beckerman has served on Britain’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and chaired the Academic Panel of Economists for the UK Department of the Environment from 1991 to 1996.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Independent Institute; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945999852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945999850
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,521,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An excellent read, well researched and written. I recommend it to all my friends who are passionate about the environment (especially to the ones who naive). A permanent fixture in my library.
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Format: Paperback
"A Poverty of Reason" should rightly be called "An Attack on the Concept of Sustainable Development". Beckerman's title implies that opinions other than his own are impoverished, regardless of their qualifications. The central tenant of the book, that sustainable development is inherently confusing, undesirable, and possibly immoral reminds me of a petulant conversation between an adolescent and a parent. On observing the teenager leaving the house the parent might say "Be safe!" to which Beckerman, if he were the teenager would reply "How safe?", "What does safe mean?", "What things are considered safe?", "How do I know when I've achieved safeness?". The frustrated parent knows that his child understands what he means by "safe" and although there are instances in which they might disagree on safe behavior, there are more cases in which they would agree.

It is much the same with the term "Sustainable Development." Beckerman understands full well what it means despite his lawyerly attacks on other writer's attempts to define it. God help us if Beckerman had been participating when the countries founders declared "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" to be rights of man. Had he been alive, he would have attributed all of the ills of society in his day to ambiguity of the word "Happiness".

The fact there is disagreement about a concept's meaning does not make the concept any less valuable. Beckerman should choose the join the debate rather than attacking the debate itself. I found his ideas on climate change to be one of the more reasonable chapters, not because I agree with his conclusion, but because he actually offered an opinion of his own and suggested a policy to fit it.
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A laughable excuse for a scholarly book - beyond offensive misuse of research to support a shamelessly neoliberal approach to 'understanding' sustainability.
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If you follow the news, deal with recent HS or even college graduates you will
know that there is a definite lack (poverty) of reason. Sadly this book does
a very mediocre job of explaining why.
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