Posted in Environmental Philosophy, General Interest, Political Theory, tagged Adam, Ayn Rand, Committee of Correspondence, environmental policy, Louis William Rose, Property, property rights, Samuel Adams, Thomas Hobbes, United States on March 3, 2010|
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Indeed, the principal reason why, in the first place, states and cities were ever organized at all was to defend private property. – Cicero 1
In 1772, shortly before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Samuel Adams, who was a member of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, wrote the following:
Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, the right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. Those are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.2
Adams and the other founders of our constitutional republic felt strongly that the right to property is a fundamental part of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable that even those who go as far as to deny the validity of eminent domain must acknowledge that to the extent the individual use of property affects other members of the community, both immediately and in the future, the community develops a legitimate interest in that use. Environmental public policy attempts to manage that interest, but is often a blunt and ineffective instrument due to a lack of scientific understanding about the long-term effects of such policies, and because of the political and financial self-interests that often drive them. This essay addresses the political and moral implications associated with the restriction of personal liberty and property rights by government that may be deemed necessary in the name of environmental protection.
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