Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Christa Altenstetter

Subject Categories

Other Political Science | Political Economy


Marx, Mill, classical economics, neo-classical economics, methodology, economic method


Classical economists were interested in macroeconomic issues, i.e. how the economy worked as a whole and how it grew over time. This is opposed to neo-classical economists, which focus on decision-making processes of individuals and individual firms. This thesis sets out to examine how that change occurred and what it means for the way that economics studies the environment. In order to provide a partial answer to this question, this paper describes the different outlooks between classical and neo-classical economists regarding value. It also examines and contrasts the economic approaches of Marx and Mill, whose way of thinking about social phenomena is still very relevant today. It also highlights the changes in scientific thought that occurred at the turn of the 20th century and how they affected economics.

When these disparate aspects of economic thought and their development are considered together it becomes clearer why and how the environment is treated when economic analyses is applied to it. This is the case both in terms of explaining phenomena and in terms of the policy tools that economic theory and its application offer. It also becomes more clear how analysis of the environment developed over the last couple of centuries and that each development was based on previous modes of thought.