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The Right of Nonuse$
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Jan G. Laitos

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195386066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195386066.001.0001

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The Problem of Rights Creation

The Problem of Rights Creation

Can Natural Resources Have Legal Rights?

(p.201) 17 The Problem of Rights Creation
The Right of Nonuse

Jan G. Laitos

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the parameters of the natural resources that might be provisioned with a legal right, the justifications for such a right, and the limits that would follow if such a right were created. Section A takes up the idea of environmental ethics, and applies its teaching to the idea that natural resources are capable of being protected by right of nonuse. It reviews the reasons rights creation has historically been human-centric, and then summarizes the countervailing argument advanced by environmental ethics, which is that there is intrinsic value in nonhuman natural entities. These objects morally and ethically also deserve legal recognition and protection. Section A then answers the questions: Can rights be granted to anyone other than humans? Which entities of nature can have rights? Should the focus be on the obligations of humans to nature, or on the original rights of nature? Section B considers the larger issue of how the law might create a right of nonuse, held by natural resources, consistent with established theories of political and legal morality.

Keywords:   legal rights, environmental ethics, nonuse, legal institutions, political morality, legal morality

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