Critical Realism and Ecological Economics: Counter-Intuitive Adversaries or Ostensible Soulmates?

Lukáš Likavčan



The paper questions the compatibility of critical realism with ecological economics. In particular, it is argued that there is radical dissonance between ontological presuppositions of ecological economics and critical realist perspective. The dissonance lies in the need of ecological economics to state strict causal regularities in socio-economic realm, given the environmental intuitions about the nature of economy and the role of materiality and non-human agency in persistence of economic systems. Using conceptual apparatus derived from Andrew Brown’s critique of critical realism and Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory, the paper refuses ontological nature/society dualism employed by critical realism, and stresses the role of non-humans in practical production and reproduction of socio-economic networks on the one hand, and in broadly defined ecological economic research on the other hand.


ecological economics; actor-network theory; causality; collective events; critical realism; non-human actors; nature/culture dualism

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