Essays in Legal Philosophy
Edited By Tomasz Pietrzykowski and Brunello Stancioli
Constructing Legal Personality of Collective Entities – The Case of “Peasants”)
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Constructing Legal Personality of Collective Entities – The Case of “Peasants”
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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