Earth and Other Ethics: The Case for Moral Pluralism

Earth and Other Ethics: The Case for Moral Pluralism

Earth and Other Ethics: The Case for Moral Pluralism

Earth and Other Ethics: The Case for Moral Pluralism

Excerpt

IT HAS BEEN over a dozen years since I wrote Should Trees Have Standing? -- Towards Legal Rights for Natural Objects. The history of that little essay best explains how I came to undertake the book that follows. In 1969 the U.S. Forest Service had granted Walt Disney Enterprises a permit to construct a $35 million resort complex in Mineral King Valley, located in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Sierra Club, seeking to block the development, won a temporary restraining order in the U.S. district court, but then lost on appeal for want of standing. Perhaps there were legal grounds on which the Disney plan could be assailed. But these were not grounds the Sierra Club could raise, not having shown itself to be adversely affected. "The right to sue," the appeals court declared, "does not inure to one who does not possess it, simply because there is no one else willing and able to assert it."

It occurred to me that if standing were the barrier, why not designate Mineral King, the wilderness area, as the plaintiff "adversely affected," let the Sierra Club be characterized as the attorney or guardian for the area, and get on with the merits? Indeed, that seemed a more straightforward way to get at the real issue, which was not what all that gouging of roadbeds would do to the Club or its members, but what it would do to the valley. Why not come right out and say -- and try to deal with -- that ?

By the time I started writing Trees , the lawsuit, Sierra Club v. Morton . . .

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