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Durham University

Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Dr Simon Paul James

James, Simon P. (2020). Legal Rights and Nature's Contributions to People: Is There a Connection? Biological Conservation 241: 108325.

Author(s) from Durham


It has been claimed that approaches to conservation framed in terms of nature’s contributions to people are congenial to ones framed in terms of rights. This paper provides what has so far been lacking – namely, an argument in support of this claim. The argument takes its cue from the observation that nature’s contributions to people can take the form of contributions to cultural identity. It is then argued that in some such cases one can justify conserving the relevant natural entities by appealing to the relevant people’s legal right to their own cultural identity. In such instances, it is proposed, appeals to nature’s contributions to people really are consonant with appeals to legal rights. The argument is developed by means of a discussion of the cultural value of reindeer herding in Saami communities in northern Europe.