Multicriteria Mapping

Authored by: Rebecca White

Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138931510
eBook ISBN: 9781315679747
Adobe ISBN: 9781317395102


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Multicriteria mapping (MCM) is an appraisal tool for use in cases where a range of possible options exist in the context of complexity, uncertainty and diverse values. Options in this instance can be defined as the set of practices, policies, strategies or technologies that are held under different perspectives to be broadly salient (directly or indirectly) to achieve some broadly shared societal aim, function, quality or value (Stirling and Coburn, 2014:14). However, rather than offering a means of definitively justifying a single decision through a narrowly defined, or indeed single (set of) metric(s), MCM is a heuristic. The aim is not to prescribe a particular best choice, but to explore the way in which the outcomes of strategic choice appraisal change, depending on the view that is taken and the values brought to bear in doing so (Stirling, 2005). The output is both a qualitative and quantitative ‘map’ of how different options look from different perspectives. MCM is therefore a method that speaks directly to a defining characteristic of ecological economics, that of taking pluralism and complexity of values seriously [see Chapter 22]. Spash (1999: 431) notes that:

A central part of defining ecological economics as a distinct new subject rotates around the importance of incorporating moral values and being prepared to openly debate difficult issues, such as the set of morally considerable entities, the rights of future generations and treatment of the poor.

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