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The technical issues of definition and the theoretical justification for using the contingent valuation method are discussed. This is followed by a consideration of what existence value is trying to categorize, and whether the ‘welfarist’ approach embedded in neoclassical welfare analysis is an appropriate framework for understanding such values. Finally, arguments for and against the use of existence value in cont-benefit analysis are assessed, concluding in a ‘third way’ that accepts it as a valid category of values to be considered in the project evaluation process, but asserts that the total valuation framework is not an appropriate method for assessing existence value for both economic and meta-ethical reasons.

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