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Demand, Supply, and Sustainability: Reflections on Kenneth Boulding's Evolutionary Economics
- Valentinov, Vladislav
- Society & natural resources 2015 v.28 no.11 pp. 1216-1232
- carrying capacity, economic sustainability, economists, environmental sustainability, opportunity costs
- Drawing upon his original ecological approach to evolutionary economics, Kenneth Boulding developed a systems-theoretic reconstruction of the neoclassical supply-and-demand framework. He located the systems-theoretic meaning of the neoclassical concept of opportunity costs in the limits of the environmental carrying capacity, which are centrally emphasized by ecological economists and sustainability scholars. An implication of his argument is that the neoclassical supply-and-demand framework presents a variety of the general systems theory that suffers from being grounded in the attenuated concept of the environment. This article explores the options for broadening this concept by revisiting the work of Niklas Luhmann and C. West Churchman. Their ideas are shown to underlie an alternative systems-theoretic framework that is capable of incorporating the contemporary concerns about the societal and ecological sustainability of economic activity.