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As the fledgling discipline of Ecological Economics strives to define itself in contrast to traditional tendencies in the field, new conception of science are employed. By these means, ecological economics is provided with a new conceptual framework, as an alternative to the antiquated conceptions of physical science which have been dominant hitherto in economics. In this paper one such conception of science appropriate for the new ecological economics is suggested. For epistemology there is the theory of systems, in particular emergent complex systems, in which thermodynamics and ecology are synthesized. For a guide to practice, there is the theory of Post-Normal Science as the appropriate form of problem-solving for the complex issues of environmental policy. In their terms, the role of natural science can be reassessed as applied to decision making in economics and ecology. In this paper the theory of emergent complexity is discussed as it relates to ecological economics. The new roles required of physical and ecological science to respond to urgent environmental problems are explained, the basis for characterization of the different types of complexity, ordinary and emergent.

Additional information

Authors: FUNTOWICZ S, JRC Ispra (IT);O'CONNOR M, Université de Versailles-St Quentin en Yvelines, C3ED, Paris, (FR);RAVETZ J, RMC Ltd, London (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented : C3ED, Université de Versailles, Paris (FR), May 23-25, 1996
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 39939 ORA
Record Number: 199610965 / Last updated on: 1996-09-30
Original language: en
Available languages: en