Rethinking Rights in the Age of the 'Anthropocene': The Potential of a Gandhian-Informed Jurisprudence for Forging Robust Environmental and Public Health Protections

The Global Community Yearbook of International Law & Jurisprudence 2016 at 133 (Giuliana Ziccardi Capaldo ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2017)

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Research Paper 2017-13

Posted: 6 Nov 2017 Last revised: 8 Nov 2017

See all articles by Karen C. Sokol

Karen C. Sokol

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Date Written: August 14, 2017

Abstract

The current age of climate change–what geologists call the “Anthropocene”–lays bare the falsity of the “right” dichotomy dominant in Western legal theory. Under that dichotomy, civil and political rights are conceived of as separate from, and more important than, the right to basic health and environmental protection. The author argues that two of the key principles in the Indian texts on which Gandhi based his theory of civil disobedience–love for all beings (ahimsa) and the interconnectedness of all beings and the Earth–provide a basis for dismantling this “right” dichotomy. The author then discusses other theories of rights that could accommodate a Gandhian-informed unified theory–one that includes civil, political, environmental, and public health rights on equal footing. Such a re-conceptualization of right is necessary to respond to the immense global environmental and public health threats we all face in the age of the Anthropocene.

Keywords: anthropocene, climate change, environmental law, public health, rights theory, Gandhi, satyagraha, ahimsa, Indian philosophy

Suggested Citation

Sokol, Karen C., Rethinking Rights in the Age of the 'Anthropocene': The Potential of a Gandhian-Informed Jurisprudence for Forging Robust Environmental and Public Health Protections (August 14, 2017). The Global Community Yearbook of International Law & Jurisprudence 2016 at 133 (Giuliana Ziccardi Capaldo ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2017), Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Research Paper 2017-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3063526

Karen C. Sokol (Contact Author)

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 901
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
504-861-5593 (Phone)
504-861-5733 (Fax)

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