Value Incommensurability in Planning

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientificpeer-review


In most planning tasks, several conflicting issues can be detected: Economic benefits vs. recreational values, economic benefits vs. natural values, economic benefits vs. cultural heritage, New Urbanism/Yimbyism vs. Nimbyism, and density vs. environmental health. Field-specific knowledge is commissioned and used, but
there is no rational calculus used in weighing the values detected. Professionals and decision makers wish to have a firmer foundation for their decisions, and the neo-liberal agenda suggests rationalization of these decisions in terms of CBA or DMV, which some practitioners follow. The philosophical problem of value monism vs. value pluralism: Is it theoretically possible to compare values of different value categories (e.g. aesthetic, preservationist, economical)? If it is, is there a common metric (e.g. willingness to pay, willingness to accept) that has at least some justification? If there is not, how can rational comparisons be made? If, on the contrary, there is a plurality of incommensurable values, can planning and decision making be rational? If it cannot, how can it be responsible (in terms of justice, sustainable development, etc.)? According to VP, if values of one category (protected species, unique cultural heritage) are lost, they cannot be ‘regained’ by added values in another category.
Compensation can thus only achieve acceptability, but what is the criterion of that?
CBA and DMV technologies reduce citizen preferences to consumer preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017
EventAESOP Annual Congress: Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity: Fostering the European Dimension of Planning - Lisbon Institute of Technology, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 11 Jul 201714 Jul 2017
Conference number: 30


ConferenceAESOP Annual Congress
Abbreviated titleAESOP
Internet address


  • value incommensurability
  • planning
  • Neo-liberalism
  • ethics


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