The Heterodox Theory of Social Costs: By K. William Kapp, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Heterodox Theory of Social Costs

By K. William Kapp, 1st Edition

By K. William Kapp

Edited by Sebastian Berger


166 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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K. William Kapp’s heterodox theory of social costs proposes precautionary planning to pre-empt social costs and provide social benefits via socio-ecological safety standards that guarantee the gratification of basic human needs.

Based on arguments from Thorstein Veblen, Karl Marx, and Max Weber, social costs are conceptualized as systemic and large-scale damages caused by markets. Kapp refutes neoclassical solutions, such as bargaining, taxation, and tort law, unmasking them as ineffective, inefficient, inconsistent, and too market-obedient.

The chapters of this book present the social costs of markets and neoclassical economics, the social benefits of environmental controls, development planning, and the governance of science and technological standards. This book demonstrates the fruitfulness of the heterodox theory of social costs as a coherent framework to develop effective remedies for today’s urgent socio-ecological crises.

This volume is suitable for readers at all levels who are interested in the theory of social costs, heterodox economics, and the history of economic thought.


"Every sentence of this book deserves reading and proves Kapp’s originality, his broad knowledge of the social sciences (including philosophy and anthropology), and his concrete awareness and knowledge of contemporary trends in the economy, society, and environment." - Helge Peukert, Journal of Economic Issues

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. "The Planned Economy and International Trade" 3. Social Costs and Social Returns - A Critical Analysis of the Social Performance of the Unplanned Market Economy 4. Social Costs of Free Enterprise 5. Social Returns: A Critical Analysis of the Social Performance of the Unplanned Market Economy 6. Towards a New Science of Political Economy 7. Social Costs and Social Benefits - A Contribution to Normative Economics 8. Discussion Between Professor Shibata and Professor Kapp by The Economist 9. Towards a Normative Approach to Developmental and Environmental Planning and Decision-Making 10. Should the Development Process Itself be Seen as Representing a Kind of Economic System in Newly Developing Economies Today? 11. Environmental Control and the Market Mechanism 12. Energy and Environment: Inadequacy of Present Science and Technology Policies 13. The Future of Economics


About the Author/Editor

K. William Kapp (1910-1976) was a German-American economist, one of the founders of Ecological Economics, a leading contributor to the institutional economics movement, and author of "The Social Costs of Business Enterprise."

Sebastian Berger is a Senior Lecturer of Economics at the University of the West of England, winner of the 2009 Helen Potter Award (Association for Social Economics), and trustee of the Kapp Foundation.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics

Over the past two decades, the intellectual agendas of heterodox economists have taken a decidedly pluralist turn.  Leading thinkers have begun to move beyond the established paradigms of Austrian, feminist, Institutional-evolutionary, Marxian, Post Keynesian, radical, social, and Sraffian economics—opening up new lines of analysis, criticism, and dialogue among dissenting schools of thought.  This cross-fertilization of ideas is creating a new generation of scholarship in which novel combinations of heterodox ideas are being brought to bear on important contemporary and historical problems.

Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics aims to promote this new scholarship by publishing innovative books in heterodox economic theory, policy, philosophy, intellectual history, institutional history, and pedagogy.  Syntheses or critical engagement of two or more heterodox traditions are especially encouraged.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History