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New Approaches to the Personhood in Law

Essays in Legal Philosophy

Edited By Tomasz Pietrzykowski and Brunello Stancioli

The concept of personhood becomes increasingly controversial in modern legal debates. The advancements in the contemporary science and technology entail the need for reconsideration of who should count as a person in law and why. Animals, cyborgs, artificial agents and the like may pose the most important challenge for the legal orders in the 21 st century. The volume collects essays addressing various aspects of this challenge and provide an overview of what may become the most interesting and far-reaching dilemma for the law in the years to come.
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Constructing Legal Personality of Collective Entities – The Case of “Peasants”)

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Miodrag Jovanović

Constructing Legal Personality of Collective Entities – The Case of “Peasants”

1. Introduction

When Christopher Stone in 1972 made a revolutionary case in favor of legal rights for natural objects, such as trees, he noticed that “[t]hroughout legal history, each successive extension of rights to some new entity has been […] a bit unthinkable.” This is so, because “[w]e are inclined to suppose the rightlessness of rightless ‘things’ to be a decree of Nature, not a legal convention acting in support of sonic status quo.” (Stone 2010 p. 2).

The very idea of vesting rights in collective entities was met with a similar reluctance, particularly within the camp of liberal political philosophers. However, as Narveson put it, collective rights talk is not nonsensical, because, otherwise, “there would be no normative question” behind it. If one, for instance, asserts – “It makes no sense to talk of collective rights; therefore we should not recognize any” – then one has to explain “what is it whose recognition we should not engage in”. Hence, it is possible to understand the claim that collectives have rights, just as it is possible to understand the claim that rocks have rights. Narveson concludes that precisely because these statements are comprehensible, “we can understand the inimical implications of such theses, and should reject them.” This rejection can be taken only in the form of a normative argument, and this is exactly what Narveson does by...

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