Two authors with decades of experience promoting human rights argue that, as the world changes around us, rights hardly imaginable today will come into being.
A rights revolution is under way. Today the range of nonhuman entities thought to deserve rights is exploding—not just animals but ecosystems and even robots. Changes in norms and circumstances require the expansion of rights: What new rights, for example, are needed if we understand gender to be nonbinary? Does living in a corrupt state violate our rights? And emerging technologies demand that we think about old rights in new ways: When biotechnology is used to change genetic code, whose rights might be violated? What rights, if any, protect our privacy from the intrusions of sophisticated surveillance techniques?
Drawing on their vast experience as human rights advocates, William Schulz and Sushma Raman challenge us to think hard about how rights evolve with changing circumstances, and what rights will look like ten, twenty, or fifty years from now. Against those who hold that rights are static and immutable, Schulz and Raman argue that rights must adapt to new realities or risk being consigned to irrelevance. To preserve and promote the good society—one that protects its members’ dignity and fosters an environment in which people will want to live—we must at times rethink the meanings of familiar rights and consider the introduction of entirely new rights.
Now is one of those times. The Coming Good Society details the many frontiers of rights today and the debates surrounding them. Schulz and Raman equip us with the tools to engage the present and future of rights so that we understand their importance and know where we stand.
Charting the history of contemporary philosophical and religious beliefs regarding nature, Roderick Nash focuses primarily on changing attitudes toward nature in the United States. His work is the first comprehensive history of the concept that nature has rights and that American liberalism has, in effect, been extended to the nonhuman world.
“A splendid book. Roderick Nash has written another classic. This exploration of a new dimension in environmental ethics is both illuminating and overdue.”—Stewart Udall
“His account makes history ‘come alive.’”—Sierra
“So smoothly written that one almost does not notice the breadth of scholarship that went into this original and important work of environmental history.”—Philip Shabecoff, New York Times Book Review
“Clarifying and challenging, this is an essential text for deep ecologists and ecophilosophers.”—Stephanie Mills, Utne Reader
Humankind coexists with every other living thing. People drink the same water, breathe the same air, and share the same land as other animals. Yet, property law reflects a general assumption that only people can own land. The effects of this presumption are disastrous for wildlife and humans alike. The alarm bells ringing about biodiversity loss are growing louder, and the possibility of mass extinction is real. Anthropocentric property is a key driver of biodiversity loss, a silent killer of species worldwide. But as law and sustainability scholar Karen Bradshaw shows, if excluding animals from a legal right to own land is causing their destruction, extending the legal right to own property to wildlife may prove its salvation. Wildlife as Property Owners advocates for folding animals into our existing system of property law, giving them the opportunity to own land just as humans do—to the betterment of all.