Rights & Nature
- First Online:
- 591 Downloads
Due to the significant and often careless human impact on the natural environment, there are serious problems facing the people of today and of future generations. To date, ethical, aesthetic, religious, and economic arguments for the conservation and protection of the natural environment have made relatively little headway. Another approach, one capable of garnering attention and motivating action, would be welcome. There is another approach, one that I will call a rights approach. Speaking generally, this approach is an attempt to address environmental issues via the language and theory of legal and moral rights. Ultimately, it is our duties to our fellow humans that explain why we have duties regarding the natural environment. There are three main contenders among theories that can be called rights approaches to environmental issues. The first identifies the (alleged) human right to a healthful environment as the source of our obligations to conserve and protect nature. The second approach has it that our duties to nature arise from the rights of the constituents of nature themselves, its flora and fauna. The third approach to addressing environmental problems via rights is, I argue, the best path to environmental conservation and protection. This approach—which grounds duties toward nature on the human right to health—has the benefits of being a straightforward, uncontroversial, and simple approach to issues and problems that desperately need to be resolved.
KeywordsHuman rights Nature Duties Environment Health
- Anderson, M. R. (1996). Human rights approaches to environmental protection: An overview. In A. Boyle & M. Anderson (Eds.), Human rights approaches to environmental protection. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Boyle, A. (1996). The role of international human rights law in the protection of the environment. In A. Boyle & M. Anderson (Eds.), Human rights approaches to environmental protection. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Cahen, H. (2003). Against the moral considerability of ecosystems. In Andrew Light & Holmes Rolston III (Eds.), Environmental ethics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Callicott, J. B. (2008). The conceptual foundations of the Land Ethic. In Pojman & Pojman (Eds.), Environmental ethics. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Center for International and Environmental Law (CIEL) (2012) About the human rights & environment program.. http://www.ciel.org/HR_Envir/About_HRE.html.
- Fabra, A. (2002) "The intersection of human rights and environmental issues: A review of institutional developments at the international level,” part of the seminar organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Environment Program (Geneva, Switzerland: 16 January 2002). Online: http://www.unhchr.ch/environment/bp3.html.
- Franklin, J. H. (2005). Animal rights and moral philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Hare, R. M. (1999). Why I am only a demi-vegetarian. In Dale Jamieson (Ed.), Singer and his critics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Hayward, T. (1994). Ecological thought. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Hayward, T. (1998). Political theory and ecological values. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Hayward, T. (2005). Constitutional environmental rights. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Leopold, A. (1970). A sand county almanac. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
- Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
- Merrills, J. G. (1996). Environmental protection and human rights: Conceptual aspects. In A. Boyle & M. Anderson (Eds.), Human rights approaches to environmental protection (pp. 25–41). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Nash, R. (1989). The rights of nature. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) (2012). Soil quality concepts.. http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/concepts.html.
- Regan, T. (1983). The case for animal rights. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Regan, T. (1985). The case for animal rights. In P. Singer (Ed.), In defense of animals. New York: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Rolston, H., I. I. I. (2003). Value in nature and the nature of value. In A. Light & H. Rolston III (Eds.), Environmental ethics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Sandler, R. (2007). Character and environment: A virtue-oriented approach to environmental ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Sayre, L. (2009). The hidden link between factory farms and human illness. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Natural-Health/Meat-Poultry-Health-Risk.aspx.
- Stone, Christopher D. (1974). Should trees have standing? Toward legal rights for natural objects. Los Altos, CA: William Kaufmann, Inc.Google Scholar
- Taylor, Paul. (2003). The ethics of respect for nature. In L. Andrew & H. Rolston III (Eds.), Environmental ethics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- United States: Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. DHHS). (1986). The health consequences of involuntary smoking. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
- Wilson, E. O. (1999). The diversity of life. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar