Mark Sagoff

Distinguished Senior Fellow

MS-LargeAreas of Specialization

Philosophy of environmental science (especially philosophy of ecology and philosophy of economics), environmental valuation, ecological economics, philosophy of law, and ethical issues in genomic research.


Mark Sagoff has worked with the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy since 1979 and as Professor of Philosophy at George Mason University. He has published widely in journals of law, philosophy, and the environment. His most recent books are The Economy of the Earth, 2nd Edition (2008) and Price, Principle, and the Environment (2004). Sagoff was named a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment in 1991 and awarded a Fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1998. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Hastings Center. Sagoff has an A.B. from Harvard and a Ph.D. (Philosophy) from Rochester. He has taught at Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin (Madison), and Cornell.

Sagoff was most recently Principal Investigator of the projects “Ecological Concepts of Human Identity in Microbiome and Metagenomic Research” (funded by NIH) and “Harms to Nature: A Normative and Conceptual Analysis” (funded by NSF).


Recent Publications | Books

---- 2008. The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment, second edition, completely revised and rewritten. Cambridge University Press.


Recent Publications | Articles and Chapters

“A Critical Perspective,” Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services, Potschin, M., Haines-Young, R., Fish, R. and Turner, R.K. (eds). Routledge, London and New York (2016), pp 112-114.

“Are There General Causal Forces in Ecology?”  Synthese (published online first September 25, 2015). DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0907-x (pp. 1-22).

“A Theology for Ecomodernism:  What I the Nature We Seek to Save?” The Breakthrough Journal, published by the Breakthrough Institute, July 2015; available online

“Ethical and Economic Principles of Environmental Law,” pp. 141-223 in Scott Schang, Donald Stever, and Stanley Abramson, editors, The Law of Environmental Protection, volume 1, issued April 2015.  Environmental Law Institute-Thompson Reuters.

"Social Cost-Benefits."  Wiley Encyclopedia of Management, Published Online: 21 Jan. 2015, DOI: 10.1002/9781118785317.weom020177; 2pp.

Sagoff, Mark. Forthcoming, Summer 2012. Data Deluge and the Human Microbiome Project. Issues in Science and Technology.

Sagoff, Mark. Forthcoming. Conservation Biology. In International Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette. Wiley-Blackwell.

---- 2011. The Rise and Fall of Ecological Economics. Breakthrough Journal 2: 43-56. [Full text]

---- 2011. The Poverty of Economic Analysis. In Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, ed. D. Schlosberg, J. Dryzek, and R. Norgaard. Oxford University Press. Preprinted as: The Poverty of Economic Reasoning about Climate Change. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 30 (3/4) (Fall 2010): 8-15. [Full text]

---- 2011. Who Is the Invader? Alien Species, Property Rights, and the Police Power. In Invasive and Introduced Plants and Animals: Human Perceptions, Attitudes and Approaches to Management, ed. Ian D. Rotherham and Robert A. Lambert. Earthscan. Preprinted in Social Philosophy and Policy 26:2 (2009): 26-52 and Natural Resources, The Environment, and Human Welfare, ed. Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller, and Jeffrey Paul. Cambridge University Press, 2009. 

---- 2011. The Quantification and Valuation of Ecosystem Services. Ecological Economics 70(3): 497-502.

---- 2011. Review of The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell You about Global Warming, by Roger Pielke. Issues in Science and Technology 27(3): 87-89.[Full text]

---- 2010. Environmental Ethics and Ecological Science. In Environmental Ethics: The Big Questions, ed. David R. Keller. Wiley Publishers.

---- 2010. Light and Noise Pollution. In Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Online Collection. Gale, 2009. In Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Web 16 March 2010.

---- 2009. Regulatory Review and Cost-Benefit Analysis. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 29(3/4): 21-26. [Full text]

---- 2009. Intrinsic Value: A Reply to Justus et al. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24 (12): 643.

Sagoff, Mark, and Clifford Russell. 2009. On the Collaboration of Ecologists and Economists. In The Evolution of Water Resource Planning And Decision Making, ed. Clifford S. Russell and Duane D. Baumann. Edgar Elegar Books.

---- 2009. The Economic Value of Ecosystem Services. BioScience 59(6): 461.

---- 2009. Environmental Harm: Political Not Biological. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 22(1): 81-88.

---- 2008. Third-Generation Biotechnology: A First Look. Issues in Science and Technology 25(1): 70-74. [Full text]

---- 2008. Economism. In Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, vol. II, ed. J. Baird Callicott and Robert Frodeman. MacMillan Reference Books.

---- 2008. The National Science Foundation. In Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, vol. II, ed. J. Baird Callicott and Robert Frodeman. MacMillan Reference Books.

---- 2008. On the Economic Value of Ecosystem Services. Environmental Values 17(2): 239-257.

---- 2007. Environmentalism:  Death and Resurrection. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 27 (Summer/Fall): 2-9. [Full text]

---- 2007. Science, Religion, and the Environment. Journal of Catholic Social Thought 4(2).

---- 2007. Can Environmentalists Keep Two Ideas in Mind and Still Function? Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 27(Winter/Spring), 2-7. [Full text]

---- 2007. Further Thoughts about the Human Neuron Mouse. American Journal of Bioethics 7(5): 51-52.

---- 2007. Are Non-Native Species Harmful? Conservation Magazine 8(2): 21-22. [Full text]

---- 2007. On the Compatibility of a Conservation Ethic with Biological Science. Conservation Biology 21(2): 337-345.  Reprinted as Is an Environmental Ethic Compatible with Biological Science? The Global Spiral 8(3). [Full text]

---- 2007. A Transcendental Argument for the Concept of Personhood in Neuroscience. The American Journal of Bioethics 7(1): 72-73.

Upcoming and Recent Presentations

"What Does Environmental Protection Protect?" Center for Science and Technology Policy, George Mason University. February 7, 2013.

Moderator. Justice and Society Seminar. The Aspen Institute. July 7 - 13, 2012.

"Can the Concept of Harm Apply to Ecological Communities or Only to Human Beings?" In the panel Fundamental Issues in Environmental Policy Making,Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Research Conference. Urban Institute, Washington, DC. November 4, 2011.

"Values and Public Life." Opening plenary of the Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy Converence. Center for American Progress, Washington, DC. October 6, 2011. [Video]

Moderated Panel on Gene Patents. Brookings Institution, Washington, DC. June 20, 2011.

"The Twin Failures of Ecological and Environmental Economics." Conference on Modernizing Liberalism. Breakthrough Institute, San Francisco. June 17 - 19, 2011.[Video]

Seminar Series, Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto. April 11, 2011.

"Ecological Metaphors in Microbiome Research." International Human Microbiome Congress. Vancouver, Canada. March 9 - 11, 2011. [Presentation]

"Native vs. Non-Native." In Paying the Bill for Invasive Species, by Pierre Kattar. VJMovement. March, 2011. [Video]


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