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The economic concept of the externality has emerged as perhaps the dominant framework for analyzing climate change and other environmental problems. This paper traces the history of the externality through three economic thinkers, each taking a different perspective—Arthur Pigou's 1920 articulation of the concept; Ronald Coase's 1960 challenge to Pigou; and K. William Kapp's 1950 reformulation of externalities as "social costs"—and shows how each has been deployed in political thought and practice. 

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