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Our Place in the World: A New Relationship for Environmental Ethics and Law

August 2014

Citation: ELR 10687

Author: Jedediah Purdy

The values that orient a political community are the products of that community’s struggles and efforts at persuasion and discernment. The history of  environmental law and politics and a structured sense of the vocabulary of ethical change can guide us in this terrain. Environmental law will inevitably shape the experiences and inflect the interpretations that will give these issues their shape in the next generation of what John Rawls would have called our metaphysics—a common yet contested view of the world, which we cannot do without but should not expect ever to resolve into just one form. Shaping the law to play this role actively would mean embracing both our creative ethical capacity and our sense of responsibility to make sense of and do justice, in every sense of that word, to the natural world.

Jedediah Purdy is the Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law, Duke Law School.

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