In Daniel Corrigan & Markku Oksanen (eds.), Rights of nature: A re-examination. London and New York: Routledge (2021)

Patrik Baard
University of Oslo
In recent years many actors have investigated the possibilities of strengthening legal environmental protection by making appeals to the rights of nature. Such rights have also been legally encoded in some countries. This paper will critically investigate whether it is reasonable to ascribe moral or legal rights to nature. With support from moral and legal philosophy, different propositions in support of rights of nature will be tested to see if reasonable responses can be formulated against objections. If not, the position that nature has rights may ultimately have to be rejected, or at the very least become questionable. It will be suggested that all the investigated propositions require committing to one or several of the following shortcomings: rejecting conventional properties of rights-holders; accepting conventional properties but suggesting that natural objects and processes have those properties; accepting conflicting claims between rights of natural entities and human rights; trivializing the notion of rights. Committing to any of these have significant intellectual and practical costs, and ultimately it will be proposed that the view that nature has rights ought to be rejected.
Keywords rights  environmental ethics  legal rights  moral rights
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