Environmental law finds itself in a very delicate position. Its role is to elaborate rules and principles for addressing multiple ecological crises, yet environmental law is structurally and conceptually rooted in a broader legal tradition thoroughly implicated in the domination and ‘othering’ of nature. The ecological worldview challenges the roots of modern law, casting critical light upon Cartesian dualism and the epistemology of mastery. While environmental law has incorporated some of the new knowledge offered by ecology into its normative texture, and has shifted its focus from fragmented parts and individuals (for example, individual species) towards wholes, relationships and complexity (for example, biodiversity, ecosystems processes), it remains far from being a comprehensive translation of the ecological worldview into law. Against this background, this article will discuss and compare two frameworks – Earth Jurisprudence and Law for Nature – both of which aim to elaborate an ecological philosophy of law. It will be suggested that while their critical premises are similarly grounded on ecological critiques of central legal categories such as subject (persons), object (things) and property (ownership), their respective ethical stances and central strategies are quite different: Earth Jurisprudence aims at articulating an ecocentric narrative in which nature is understood as a plurality of legal subjects endowed with rights; Law for Nature starts from a concept of ecological normativity, which through a continuous transformative process re-orients law, and grounds the relationship between subject and object in the concept of patrimonium. The tensions between subjective rights and objective norms, between individual and community, and between practical action and long-lasting, radical re-orientation, operate as guides for the discussion offered here.
Vito De Lucia
The ‘rise of ecosystem regimes’ is increasingly seen as the key for the resolution of the unfolding ecological crises that are the mark of the Anthropocene. These ecosystem regimes are seen as a crucial passage in resolving environmental law's internal contradictions and evident shortcomings. Indeed, ecosystem regimes are understood to signal a crucial step in a long progression from anthropocentric to ecocentric articulations of environmental law. This narrative, whether in normative or descriptive terms, informs much, and perhaps most, environmental legal scholarship. In this article I intend to problematize this linear narrative through an ‘analytics of biopolitics’. Situated within the critical space tentatively called ‘critical environmental law’, this approach aims at opening the field of inquiry rather than producing closures. Rather than a simplified, linear narrative of increasing interpenetration between law and ecology – a narrative where law becomes, or ought to become, increasingly ecocentric – an analytics of biopolitics transposed to the specific critical environmental legal terrain aims at outlining the slippages that intervene at the margins of intersection between law and ecology, and at articulating a biopolitical critique of both ‘anthropocentric’ and ‘ecocentric’ articulations of environmental law.