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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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John Locke: “This Habitable Earth of Ours”

John Locke: “This Habitable Earth of Ours”

(p.99) 5 John Locke: “This Habitable Earth of Ours”
Engaging Nature

Zev Trachtenberg

The MIT Press

Zev Trachtenberg challenges standard readings that John Locke sanctions the more or less unlimited exploitation of nature and a very strong conception of property rights. Though Locke should not be called a proto-environmentalist, he offers a theory of sustainable habitation, not exploitation, of the natural world. Trachtenberg draws not only on Locke’s familiar moral limitations on the appropriation of property – the so-called “Lockean Provisos”– but also on Locke’s arguments against Robert Filmer’s notion of the divine right of kings, and on James Tully’s reading of Locke as advocating only usufructory, not full ownership, rights to nature. Trachtenberg presents Lockean theory as justifying a significant role for government in the management and conservation of natural resources.

Keywords:   John Locke, First and Second Treatises of Government (Locke), environmental political theory, property rights, regulatory takings, sustainability, James Tully, habitation, liberalism, Robert Filmer

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