The Ecology of Law (Audio)

Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community

Fritjof Capra (Author) | Ugo Mattei (Author)

Publication date: 10/05/2015

The Ecology of Law (Audio)
WINNER OF THE 2015 IBPA BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AWARD IN POLITICS/CURRENT EVENTS

The Ecology of Law


Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei argue that at the root of many of the environmental, economic, and social crises we face today is a legal system based on an obsolete worldview. Capra, a bestselling author, physicist, and systems theorist, and Mattei, a distinguished legal scholar, explain how, by incorporating concepts from modern science, the law can become an integral part of bringing about a better world, rather than facilitating its destruction.

This is the first book to trace the fascinating parallel history of law and science from antiquity to modern times, showing how the two disciplines have always influenced each other—until recently. In the past few decades, science has shifted from seeing the natural world as a kind of cosmic machine best understood by analyzing each cog and sprocket to a systems perspective that views the world as a vast network of fluid communities and studies their dynamic interactions. The concept of ecology exemplifies this approach. But law is stuck in the old mechanistic paradigm: the world is simply a collection of discrete parts, and ownership of these parts is an individual right, protected by the state. Capra and Mattei show that this has led to overconsumption, pollution, and a general disregard on the part of the powerful for the common good.

Capra and Mattei outline the basic concepts and structures of a legal order consistent with the ecological principles that sustain life on this planet. This is a profound and visionary reconceptualization of the very foundations of the Western legal system, a kind of Copernican revolution in the law, with profound implications for the future of our planet.

Read more and meet author below



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Overview

WINNER OF THE 2015 IBPA BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AWARD IN POLITICS/CURRENT EVENTS

The Ecology of Law


Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei argue that at the root of many of the environmental, economic, and social crises we face today is a legal system based on an obsolete worldview. Capra, a bestselling author, physicist, and systems theorist, and Mattei, a distinguished legal scholar, explain how, by incorporating concepts from modern science, the law can become an integral part of bringing about a better world, rather than facilitating its destruction.

This is the first book to trace the fascinating parallel history of law and science from antiquity to modern times, showing how the two disciplines have always influenced each other—until recently. In the past few decades, science has shifted from seeing the natural world as a kind of cosmic machine best understood by analyzing each cog and sprocket to a systems perspective that views the world as a vast network of fluid communities and studies their dynamic interactions. The concept of ecology exemplifies this approach. But law is stuck in the old mechanistic paradigm: the world is simply a collection of discrete parts, and ownership of these parts is an individual right, protected by the state. Capra and Mattei show that this has led to overconsumption, pollution, and a general disregard on the part of the powerful for the common good.

Capra and Mattei outline the basic concepts and structures of a legal order consistent with the ecological principles that sustain life on this planet. This is a profound and visionary reconceptualization of the very foundations of the Western legal system, a kind of Copernican revolution in the law, with profound implications for the future of our planet.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra, Ph.D. physicist and systems theorist, is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, which is dedicated to promoting ecology and systems thinking in primary and secondary education. He serves on the faculty of Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies in the United Kingdom. 

After receiving his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Vienna in 1966, Capra did research in particle physics at the University of Paris (1966–68), the University of California at Santa Cruz (1968–70), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1970), Imperial College, University of London (1971–74), and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory at the University of California (1975–88). 

In addition to his research in physics and systems theory, Capra has been engaged in a systematic examination of the philosophical and social implications of contemporary science for the past forty years. His books on this subject have been acclaimed internationally, and he has lectured widely to lay and professional audiences in Europe, Asia, and North and South America.

Capra is the author of several international bestsellers, including The Tao of Physics (1975), The Turning Point (1982), The Web of Life (1996), The Hidden Connections (2002), and The Science of Leonardo (2007). He has been the focus of more than fifty television interviews, documentaries, and talk shows in Europe, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan, and has been featured in major newspapers and magazines internationally. He was the first subject of the BBC’s documentary series Beautiful Minds (2002). 

Capra holds an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Plymouth and is the recipient of many other awards, including the Gold Medal of the UK Systems Society, the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity from the Media Ecology Association, the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, the Leonardo da Vinci Medallion of Honor from the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona, the Bioneers Award, the New Dimensions Broadcaster Award, and the American Book Award. Fritjof Capra lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter. 

www.fritjofcapra.net



Visit Author Page - Ugo Mattei

Ugo Mattei is Distinguished Professor of Law, and Alfred and Hanna Fromm Chair in International and Comparative Law at UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, California.  He attended Law School of the University of Torino, J.D. (1983); UC Berkeley School of Law, LL.M., Fulbright Fellow (1989); and the London School of Economics Faculté Internationale de Droit Comparé, Strasbourg. He has been a visiting scholar at Yale Law School and the University of Cambridge (Trinity College and Wolfson College), and a visiting professor at Oslo, Berkeley, Montpellier, and Macau.

In 1985 he joined the law school of the University of Trento as an assistant professor and he received tenure as a full professor in 1990. In 1992 he was appointed as a professor in the Faculte' Internationale de Droit Compare' (Strasbourg), where he served for four years. In 1994 he was appointed to the Hastings faculty as the first holder of the Fromm Chair in International and Comparative Law, succeeding R.B. Schlesinger in teaching Comparative Law. He also teaches Political Economy of Law. In 1997 he accepted a call from the University of Turin, Faculty of Law to succeed the famous Italian scholar Rodolfo Sacco as the Chair of Civil Law.

He is a full member of the International Academy of Comparative Law, a Fellow at the European Law Institute, served as a member of the Executive Editorial Board of the American Journal of Comparative Law, is a founding editor of Global Jurist, a general editor to the Common Core of European Private Law since its beginning in 1993, and serves as the Academic Coordinator of the International University College of Turin.

He serves advisory roles in many academic institutions including the Friburg Institute of Comparative Law, the Austrian and the Romanian Societies of Comparative Law and the Institute of Law, Economics and Finances at Copenhagen Business School. He recently masterminded, as lawyer and an activist, the Italian campaign against the privatization of water, which was successfully completed in June 2011 with a national referendum in which more than 27 million Italians voted to endorse Professor Mattei’s scheme to recognize water as a common.

Professor Mattei's work is highly interdisciplinary. He has published eighteen books and more than one hundred other publications in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Ukrainian. His most recent book, published in Italian, a manifesto for the commons, providing the theoretical basis for the current wave of resistance against neoliberalism in Italy, has reached the eights edition in just six months.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Laws of Nature and the Nature of Law
1. Science and Law
2. From
Kósmos to Machine: The
Evolution of Early Western Scientific Thought
3. From Commons to Capital: The Evolution of Western Legal Thought
4. The Great Transformation and the Legacy of Modernity
5. From the Machine to the Network: Scientific Thought in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
6. Mechanical Jurisprudence
7. The Mechanistic Trap
8. From Capital to Commons: The Ecological Transformation in Law
9. The Commons as a Legal Institution
10. The Ecolegal Revolution

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Endorsements

“The modern-day legal system is seldom tied to current unsustainable ecological practices. Yet in this thoughtful treatise, co-authors Capra and Mattei show how tenets of western jurisprudence, such as private property rights and eminent domain, have eradicated older precepts. Natural resources were considered 'commons' that belonged to no one, to be shared by everyone. This older way of thinking gradually disappeared as community-based justice was replaced by codified laws serving elites, as in ancient Rome. American law, inherited largely from the English common law tradition, developed under the influence of Enlightenment-era concepts of favoring mercantilism and industrialization – practices that approach the natural world as something to be subdued and exploited. The authors propose a philosophy and jurisprudence that is deeply radical – upending centuries of Western tradition and culture – but possibly crucial to solving looming environmental problems. If there is a flaw in their book, it is perhaps their faith (expressed almost without doubt) that there exists a reasonable possibility of the world jettisoning global capitalism in order to 'decentralize power to small scale communities in tune with the laws of ecology.' Simply reading about Capra and Mattei's vision is a paradigm-changing experience. Realizing it would require a seemingly impossible, but perhaps crucial, global transformation.”
- Publishers Weekly

“Confronting the systemic roots of our ecological crisis is far from easy, but there is a heartening side: we remember that the rules of our economic system are culturally constructed -- and that means they can change. This book is not only a dazzling map of the legal order underpinning capitalism, but also a visionary call to transform that system, reminding us that communities can and must drive the process of renewal and regeneration.”
—Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

“Rules restrain but also enable. Law elevates this capacity onto a higher plane but succumbs to its dark side when shaped by vested interests extending cleverly their tyranny upon humanity and nature. Things do not have to be this way. As this book vividly explains law can be turned into an instrument for defending the planet and its inhabitants from the encroachments of financialized commodification.”
—Yanis Varoufakis, former Minister of Finance of Greece

"
The Ecology of Law is a fast-paced, historical tour de force, placing the law in the various contexts that have shaped its utilization for good or ill. The contexts discussed by these bold thinkers - science and technology, the natural world, and the commons as a legal institution - provide fresh and functional perspectives on the evolution of law for the just society. For all those readers who think, wonder, and bridle at the law in their lives, this book is your tonic."
—Ralph Nader

“Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei fill a gap in our understanding of how the mechanistic paradigm that shaped a science for the exploitation and domination of nature was exported into law to ‘naturalize' resource grab and the enclosures and privatization of the commons. From the tragedy imposed on the old and young in Greece, to the farmers' suicides in India , the enclosures of the commons is now threatening the very survival of humanity.
The Ecology of Law lays the conceptual foundations for the recovery of the commons , and through it, the rejuvenation of our economies, our democracies, our lives .”
—Vandana Shiva, scientist, philosopher, activist, and author of Making Peace with the Earth

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