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The Turning Point in Private Law

Ecology, Technology and the Commons

Ugo Mattei and Alessandra Quarta

Can private law assume an ecological meaning? Can property and contract defend nature? Is tort law an adequate tool for paying environmental damages to future generations? The Turning Point in Private Law explores potential resolutions to these questions, analyzing the evolution of legal thinking in relation to the topics of legal personality, property, contract and tort. The authors pose a suggested list of basic principles for a new, ecological legal system in which private law represents a valid ally for defending our future.
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Chapter 2: Legal personality and sovereignty

Ugo Mattei and Alessandra Quarta


In this chapter we present legal personality and sovereignty, taking into account their historical evolution. The focus is the progressive personalization of public authorities such as the State and corporations. We emphasize the limits of these abstract institutions in the light of the challenges of the global market and technological devices. We present a catalogue of materials that indicate a counter-hegemonic interpretation of existing legal institutions (worker buyouts and self-managed enterprises; new public corporations managed as commons; benefit corporations) as well as the emersion of new non-human subjects, such as animals and natural resources (e.g., rivers, tree, lakes).

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