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Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law

A Study of Structure, Form and Language

Douglas Fisher

Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law provides a comprehensive review and analysis of the range of legal reasoning processes to support the understanding, interpretation and application of international, regional and national rules of environmental law.
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Chapter 1: Law, language and reasoning

Douglas Fisher


The doctrines, principles and rules of the law as an intrinsically intellectual discipline created by humans are expressed through the medium of language. Language is the link between these doctrines, principles and rules and the intellectual processes of humans. The justification for the activities and behaviour of humans and for their decisions emerges from the reasoning processes undertaken by humans and expressed through the medium of language. Where do nature, the natural environment and their associated natural resources fit within this paradigm? More specifically, what forms of reasoning support the application of the doctrines, principles and rules of the law in the context of sustainable environmental governance? A simple question but with no simple answer. The complexity of legal reasoning is matched only by the complexity of the evolving structures for environmental governance at international, regional and national levels. Much attention has been paid over the years to an analysis of the techniques of legal reasoning. The jurisprudence of environmental governance is a relatively new phenomenon and only recently has attention turned to an analysis of the techniques of legal reasoning in relation to environmental governance. Is environmental governance different from other governance arrangements? Does it present any particular challenges for legal reasoning? Do the legal arrangements for environmental governance display any structures that are unique linguistically, grammatically, procedurally or substantively? The subject matter of this analysis is environmental governance. It is thus appropriate to commence with a brief review of the nature of legal arrangements for environmental governance as they are emerging in an increasing number of jurisdictions – both international and national – across the global environment.

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