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Given-ness and Gift: Property and the Quest for Environmental Ethics, 24 Environmental Law 1 (1994)


Economists and some lawyers argue that environmental degradation results from an absence of property rights, a condition that opens the environment to ill-treatment as a "commons," in which any environmental resource is treated as "just a given". But as Professor Rose points out, conventional forms of property rights can also can also damage environmental resources, while bureaucratic forms of management can be complex, expensive, and coercive. In this Article, Rose suggests that environmental ethics may yield an alternative or supplemental approach to managing environmental resources, in which the environment is seen not as a ''given'' but as a ''gift.'' With commons problems in mind, she examines three possible sources for genuinely conservationist environmental ethics: indigenous peoples's practices, biologic rights, and older forms of common property.

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