Year of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Forest and Conservation Science
Department or School/College
W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation
Brian Chaffin, Dave Patterson, Katrina Mullan, Alan Watson
conservation social science, interdisciplinary, national forest planning and management, pragmatist philosophy, public engagement, Q-methodology
University of Montana
I propose pragmatist philosophy as a companion for ecological economics, a research tradition with a focus on addressing sustainability issues and integrating ecological principles, economics, and the broader social sciences. Ecological economics laudable goals include balancing competing values, tradeoffs, and insights for more equitable decision-making. However, the field is built upon somewhat tenuous philosophical and theoretical foundations, which has resulted in a muddled body of literature, concerns about relativistic science, and questions about the future viability of the field. To address such concerns, I propose and articulate pragmatist ecological economics. Generally, joining pragmatism and ecological economics provides established beliefs about: the nature of reality with a contextual ontology; the way we learn via Dewey’s experience model; the way to assess knowledge based upon deliberative democracy and ‘wary assessment’ and; a clear purpose to communicate, understand, and facilitate social learning about the human-nature relationship. Specific recommendations include a core subject matter (a comprehensive understanding of human-nature relationships), integration of normative sustainability, and a focus on better processes and methods that synthesize across big ideas (e.g., relationship to place research, ecosystem services). I stress that all approaches to understanding the human-nature relationship provide different, partial understandings. Consequently, I demonstrate a ‘research menu’ framework by weighing into a methodological debate between Q- and R-methodology. Finally, I propose that a social-ecological systems perspective and a pragmatist ecological economics are compatible, as the former can help the latter better achieve its applied goals by orienting the understanding of the human-nature relationships within the larger system.
Armatas, Christopher Aden, "PRAGMATIST ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS: FOCUSING ON HUMAN-NATURE RELATIONSHIPS AND SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS" (2019). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 11438.
Available for download on Thursday, August 13, 2020
© Copyright 2019 Christopher Aden Armatas