The iron fist vs. the invisible hand: Interventionism and libertarianism in environmental economic discourses

Philip Z. Maymin, Tai Wei Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Drawing from a broad range of sources, we define and discuss the two primary ways of contemplating issues related to environmental economics, namely, interventionism and libertarianism. We then interpret a cellular automaton as a model that allows for either approach, as well as anarchy, and show that interventionism exponentially reduces the number of possibilities while libertarianism, even when only probabilistically applied, tends to retain rather than destroy the underlying economic complexity. Thus, the libertarian, ex-post, remuneration approach may deserve more than the scant consideration it typically receives in such discourse, while the interventionist, ex-ante, regulation approach may have hidden long-term dangers not previously recognised. More generally, the approach outlined here may prove useful as a mechanism by which various regulatory proposals may be tested and compared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-374
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2012



  • Cellular automaton
  • Climate change
  • Economic
  • Efficiency
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Free market
  • Innovation
  • Intervention
  • Libertarianism
  • Model
  • Policy
  • Pollution
  • State
  • Welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics

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