Following Simon, the author of The Bet suggests that the disagreement between environmentalists and economists may be due to a divergence in values. People in Ehrlich’s camp believe that values can exist outside human minds and claim priority over human values. Although Sabin does not go there, the practical implication is that people in Ehrlich’s camp feel justified in imposing their ideal society on those who don’t share their values, which they disguise under the mantle of science. Hence the environmentalists’ inclination to boss people around.
This is from Pierre Lemieux’s new review of The Bet, a book on an infamous bet between an economist and a biologist in 1980 (the economist won).
One could easily replace ‘economist’ with ‘libertarian’ and ‘environmentalist’ with anything and could find the same debate being played out. This observation of mine, if correct, prompts a number of questions (such as “why aren’t all economists libertarians?” or “why are libertarians so pugnacious?”), but so does the loser of the bet’s reaction to his loss (you’ll have to read the review to find out!).
The Bet is by Yale historian Paul Sabin. Here is the link to his book.