Herman Daly

And if economics is a religion, Herman Daly is its arch-heretic, a member of the high priesthood turned renegade.

From 1988 to 1994, Daly was the World Bank’s senior environmental economist, a lonely voice of dissent in an organization that frowns on unbelievers. During his six-year tenure, Daly, the economist-turned-ecovisionary whose works established ecological economics as a discipline, succeeded in getting the World Bank to take notice of the environment in its policies and programs. But he made little headway persuading his colleagues to adopt his more radical views on economic cosmology, which, in his vision, placed the economy squarely inside the global ecosystem, instead of the other way around.

At the root of the World Bank’s woes, says Daly, is the fundamentally flawed conception of how economics relates to the physical world — what he calls “the pre-analytic vision” — that every economist learns along with the formulas and equations of the trade.

Until a new generation arises, armed with a pre-analytic vision that places the economy within physical and ecological limitations, he believes that mainstream economics is unlikely to change.


Harris, Lissa. “The Economic Heresy of Herman Daly” Grist. 10 April 2003.

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