Inderscience Publishers

Darwinian selection and cultural incentives for resource use: Tikopia as a case study of sustainability

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Operating within the framework of conventional welfare economics, the sustainability debate has become mired in sterile discussions about the "proper" discount rate and the "true" degree of substitutability between various forms of economic capital. This paper suggests abandoning the Neo-Walrasian framework that dominated economics in the second half of the twentieth century and returning to roots of economics as the study of the role of individual incentives within a system of particular cultural values. An alternative approach called generalised Darwinism is used to examine the South Pacific Island of Tikopia, a society that managed to achieve an environmentally sustainable culture.

Keywords: overshoot, collapse, sunk costs, Tikopia, Walrasian economics, Darwinian selection, cultural incentives, resource use, sustainable development, sustainability, welfare economics, individual incentives, cultural values

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