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Pragmatism, a philosophical movement that had considerable influence in the United States in the early twentieth century, has recently undergone an intellectual revival. In the 1980s, its precepts were applied to legal analysis and commentary by a diverse group of scholars who refer to themselves as “legal pragmatists.” Moreover, a number of philosophers and legal scholars have attempted to apply pragmatic thought to ethical aspects of protecting the non-human natural world. This Article surveys and evaluates selected aspects of that varied, provocative body of scholarship. After summarizing the fundamental principles espoused by pragmatic thinkers, the Article focuses on the writings of two neo-pragmatic scholars, Keith Hirokawa and Daniel Farber, whose works provide useful illustrations of pragmatic approaches to environmental laws and policies. It also assays the overall benefits and shortcomings of pragmatic analysis, both as a tool for environmental policymaking and as an aid to advocates of needed improvements in environmental laws.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
6 Sep 2022
1.91 MB



  • Subject
    • Environmental Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review

  • Volume
    • 31

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Pagination
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022