Varner, Gary E. "do species have standing?" Environmental ethics 9 (1987): Pp. 57-72


In his recent article Should Trees Have Standing? Revisited" Christopher D. Stone has effectively withdrawn his proposal that natural objects be granted legal rights, in response to criticism from the Feinberg/McCloskey camp. Stone now favors a weaker proposal that natural objects be granted what he calls legal "considerateness". I argue that Stone's retreat is both unnecessary and undesirable. I develop the notion of a "de facto" legal right and argue that species already have de facto legal rights as statutory beneficiaries of the "Endangered Species Act of 1973." I conclude that granting certain nonhuman natural entities legal rights is both more important and less costly that Stone and his critics have realized, and that it is not Stone's original proposal which needs rethinking, but the concept of interests at work in the Feinberg/McCloskey position.



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Gary Varner
Texas A&M University

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