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Legal personality and the natural world: on the persistence of the human measure of value

Ngaire Naffine

Keywords: Common law world; conservative Christians; consuming humanistic debate; Dworkin; Finnis; rationalists; rationality; sanctity

Abstract

Addressing the fundamental anthropocentrism of law, the author argues that two influential families of thinkers have played a critical role in sustaining it: secular rationalists and conservative Christians. The influence of these thinkers has combined to engineer and sustain a set of public concerns about the fitting borders of legal personality that are essentially humanistic in the sense that they focus almost exclusively on the human species and the perceived limits of its interests. The author's reluctant conclusion is that, notwithstanding the eloquence, intelligence and power of Stone's arguments, he was unable to attract the attention of a critical mass of the influential, let alone persuade them to set aside their own human concerns. Law continues to exclude the non-human from its community of persons.

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