Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Environmental Law and Contrasting Ideas of Nature : A Constructivist Approach

Publication Date



Many of the forces that obscure the connections between individuals and the environment have their origin in extralegal constraints, such as economic forces, cognitive limitations, and the limits of scientific understanding. These constraints are often systemic and, while perhaps influenced by law, not directly a product of law. However, there are some ways in which law perpetuates and exacerbates a misleading and artificial separation between individuals as separate from, instead of an interdependent part of, nature. Laws that obscure the connection between individuals and nature can be grouped into several categories: (1) laws that employ individual exceptionalism, that is, focus on commercial and industrial sources of pollution while turning a blind eye to the environmental harms attributable to individuals; (2) laws that hide the environmental consequences of consumption; and (3) laws that obscure how environmental harms harm individuals.


This chapter is from Environmental law and contrasting ideas of nature : a constructivist approach edited by Keith H. Hirokawa.