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Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment

Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment

Research Handbooks in Human Rights series

Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé

Bringing together leading international scholars in the field, this Research Handbook interrogates, from various angles and positions, the fractious relationship between human rights and the environment and between human rights and environmental law. The Handbook provides researchers and students with a fertile source of reflection and engagement with this most important of contemporary legal relationships. Law’s complex role in the mediation of the relationship between humanity and the living order is richly reflected in this timely and authoritative collection.

Chapter 3: Epistemologies of doubt

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights


If the human can no longer be considered central to the world, how is the question of knowing affected? How does one know when one is thrown into the box of the Anthropocene, where being everywhere cannot be equated to being central to everything? This Chapter connects issues of the posthuman, in terms of methodology and as an ontological position, to the more specific issues of environmental degradation. The path followed is neither one of binarisms (such as anthropo/ecocentrism), nor one of third terms or third spaces which have thus far all too comfortably ‘solved’ the problem of human suprematism. Rather, the text begins in a space of ontological exposure and vulnerability, a space of continuum that is characterized by human/nonhuman indistinguishability. Yet, amidst this space of rapid flows and epochal pauses, human responsibility emerges more powerfully than any other. This is a situated responsibility that requires a deep ethical understanding of the position of each body with regard to the assemblage of which it is part. Finally, the text ends with a description of the main challenges of what I have called Critical Environmental Law.

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