The Role of the Common Law in Defining and Protecting the Environment: A Prolegomenon



This article surveys contemporary issues in defining and protecting the environment. It stresses the continuing relevance of common law methodology and doctrine. It reviews the development and imprecision of the term “environment,” together with the influence of various philosophical and utilitarian views of environmentalism. These are juxtaposed against corresponding approaches to human flourishing. Finally, the article analyzes how contemporary notions devaluing meaning of property and property rights have contributed towards a lack of interest in developing common law principles - principally those of nuisance - in dealing with environmental issues.