Law and Nature

Law and Nature

Law and Nature

Law and Nature

Synopsis

Exploring the relationship between conceptions of nature and (largely American) legal thought and practice, this study focuses on the politics and pragmatics of "nature talk"--as expressed in extra-legal disputes as well as different forms of legal discourse. Topics include the forces of nature, endangered species, animal experiments and bestiality. David Delaney demonstrates throughout that nearly any analysis of "nature" entails an interpretation of the essence of "humanity."

Excerpt

Wilderness, animals, bodies, and brains. Rivers, oceans, endangered species. Pets. Laboratory monkeys, dancing bears, and killer bees. Sperm. Conception, gestation, lactation. Breeding. Giving birth. Genes, chromosomes, and hormones. Lust. Sodium, potassium, electromagnetism, and sexuality. Hurricanes and neurotransmitters. Corn. Iron. Oxygen, nicotine, and blood. Northern white pines, schizophrenia, comets, and death. Black raspberries and instincts. That fish, this urge, these symptoms, those asteroids. Nature.

There is, in the world that humans have created, the concept “nature.” There is also in Western culture a range of more specific conceptions of nature — theological, scientific, philosophical, and common. Then there are the things, places, or events in and of the world to which the designations “nature” or “natural” are applied or from which they are withheld. One element that appears to hold many of these together has to do with that which they are not. Distinguished from nature in many conceptions are those critical aspects of humanness — consciousness, intentionality, culture, knowledge, and so forth — which, if not regarded as unnatural, are generally considered to be of such a radically different ontological status as to justify a basic distinction in kind between the human and the natural, between humans and other animals or life forms, between bodies and minds, and, more specifically, between brains as matter and mind as, well, something else. Collingwood, in his The Idea of Nature, put it like this, “According to Galileo, whose views on this subject were adopted by Descartes and Locke and became what may be called the orthodoxy of the seventeenth century, minds form . . .

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