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Herman Daly has passed away

Herman Daly (1938-2022) was an early supporter of and a frequent contributor to the Real-World Economics Review, and the week before last, eleven days before he died age 84, he submitted an essay to RWER with this email.

Dear Edward,

I hope that you are well and surviving still in our disintegrating world.  RWER continues as a voice of sanity.  I am still kicking, but slowly, which has its benefits.

Attached is an article that I am submitting to RWER. Suggestions welcome.

All good wishes,

Herman’s essay “Ecological economics in four parables” will appear in RWER‘s next issue, early December.



  1. Econoclast
    October 31, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    I was trained as an economist at Berkeley in the 1960s. Some of us tried to petition the department to address ecological and environmental issues, to no avail. The most environmentally oriented author presented was Kenneth Boulding, still a favorite of mine, and one of those who influenced Daly. I became disgusted with the economics profession and left to pursue a career in another field. Herman Daly’s Steady-State Economics (1977) brought me back into an interest in the subject of economics. A good man is gone.

  2. Meta Capitalism
    November 1, 2022 at 3:29 am

    Causation is both “bottom up” and “top down”: material cause from the bottom, and final cause from the top, as Aristotle might say. Economics, or as I prefer, “political economy,” is in between, and serves to balance desirability (the lure of right purpose) with possibility (the constraints of finitude). We need an economics fit for purpose in a finite and entropic world.   As a way to envision such an inclusive economics, consider the “ends-means pyramid” shown below. At the base of the pyramid are our ultimate means, low entropy matter-energy – that which we require to satisfy our purposes – which we cannot make, but only use up. We use these ultimate means, guided by technology, to produce intermediate means (artifacts, commodities, services, etc.) that directly satisfy our needs. These intermediate means are allocated by political economy to serve our intermediate ends (health, comfort, education, etc.), which are ranked ethically in a hierarchy by how strongly they contribute to our best perception of the Ultimate End. We can see the Ultimate End only dimly and vaguely, but in order to ethically rank our intermediate ends we must compare them to some ultimate criterion. We cannot avoid philosophical and theological inquiry into the Ultimate End just because it is difficult. To prioritize logically requires that something must go in first place. (Herman Daly. Essays against growthism (Kindle Locations 184-195). WEA. Kindle Edition.)

    Thank you, Edward, for reminding me of a book in my Kindle I need to read. It is a wise soul who is able to coordinate science, philosophy, and religion, who considers facts, meanings, and values as all worthy of human reflection. Unfortunately, neoliberal economics has reduced “value” to solely pecuniary meaning, which impoverishes our ability to understand the role of economics in society and our individual lives.

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