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Forty years ago, at the birth of environmental law, both legal and philosophical luminaries assumed that the new field would be closely connected with environmental ethics. Instead, the two grew dramatically apart. This Article diagnoses that divorce and proposes a rapprochement. Environmental law has always grown through changes in public values; for this and other reasons, it cannot do so without ethics. Law and ethics are most relevant to each other when there are large open questions in environmental politics: lawmakers act only when some ethical clarity arises; but law can itself assist in that ethical development. This process is true now in a set of emerging issues: the law of food systems, animal rights, and climate change. This Article draws on philosophy, history, and psychology to develop an account of the ethical changes that might emerge from each of these issues, and proposes legal reforms to foster that ethical development.


Law | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility | Legal Profession | Water Law