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Environment law


Over the last twenty years there has been a remarkable theoretical flourishing in the field of environmental philosophy, with the development of biocentric ethics, animal rights theories, deep ecology, ecofeminism, modified utilitarianism, moral pluralism and theories drawing on numerous religious and cultural traditions. These theories explore the intellectual and moral causes for the environmentally destructive practices of the dominant western industrial and economic culture, and propose alternatives that might avoid these consequences. This symposium raises a worthy question: to what extent have these theories had practical impact on environmental law and policy. I come to this question as a lawyer and not a philosopher. My interest in environmental philosophy has grown out of the belief that environmental law cannot and will not succeed unless there is strong public commitment to conserving nonhuman nature. Therefore, I am convinced that environmental law will not endure or have lasting effect unless environmental philosophy does indeed come down to earth successfully to affect how people view the world. Several of the participants in this symposium have contributed over the years to the important work of trying to ensure that this happens. I will argue that this work is vitally important for the future of environmental law as well as for the success of environmental philosophy itself.