Beyond the Dismal Science: Pursuing the Good Life Within an Environmental Framework

Soren J. Dudley, Macalester College

Document Type Honors Project

Advised by David Blaney


Neoclassical economic theory dominates the ways in which we frame our problems, our policies, and our behavior. I argue this neoclassical framing presents deeply flawed understandings of human motivations and wellbeing. I further contend that by relying on the metrics and practices of neoclassical economics, we actively impede our pursuit of the good life. The same economic theories that misrepresent and misguide the pursuit of wellbeing are also destructive to the ways in which we approach the problems of climate change and environmental degradation. By drawing on a robust body of literature, I establish my own understanding of wellbeing and show that the pillars of this wellbeing align with the central goals of environmentalism. I ultimately argue that the framework of environmentalism offers us an opportunity to turn away from inherently destructive neoclassical practices and reshape our conception and pursuit of the good life.


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