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What Is the Primary Right?

January 2013

Citation: ELR 10016

Author: Carter Dillard

This Comment addresses a problem with today’s efforts to protect the environment, especially with regard to climate change, and offers a solution by suggesting we change how we think about the notion of freedom. This is the problem: how we do justify, based upon principles most people can accept, the government’s limiting our freedom in order to protect the environment? This is the solution: such “limits” on our freedom can be justified based upon the widely accepted principle that every person has the right to be let alone by others, that being free also means having the choice to be independent of or away from other persons and their influence. The right to be let alone by others and be free of them, taken literally and to its logical conclusion, means persons have a right to leave others and thus society in general and enter places free from all human influence, or what we often call wilderness.

Carter Dillard is a Visiting Scholar at Emory University School of Law.

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