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Keeping multiple antennae up: Coevolutionary foundations for methodological pluralism

Giorgos Kallis, Richard B. Norgaard, Jessica J. Goddard

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Methodological pluralism has been a tenet of ecological economics since the journal's inauguration. Pluralism has fostered collaboration and forged new insights across disciplines. However, to counter the hegemonic voice of mainstream economics and inspire action on climate change and inequality, ecological economics requires coherence to produce meaningful knowledge from diverse research findings. This has to be done in a world that is increasingly complex and rapidly changing. In this article, we argue that ecological economists should keep multiple antennae up to foresee and respond to the uncertainties of rapid change. Methodological pluralism facilitates diversity of thought, which scholars require in times of rapid change. Responding to previous critiques that methodological pluralism lacks philosophical foundation, we offer tentative conceptual and historical foundations. We ground our understanding of reality and how we partially know that reality in coevolutionary thinking. We illustrate how economistic beliefs (Economism), economic knowledge (episteme), and social-economic reality coevolve together with nature to produce the current era–the Econocene. Our historical tale of the Econocene illuminates how the economic-centric beliefs guiding public and academic knowledge reproduce unsustainable and inequitable outcomes. Ecological economists, we argue, should support guiding beliefs centered on the biosphere, equity, and care while practicing a structured pluralism.

Ecological Economics, Volume 165, November 2019, pp.

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