The anthropocene and the post-human condition: exploring ontological revisions of natural law and speculative realism

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Our ecological footprint on Earth is at such a scale that we find ourselves in a geological epoch called the Anthropocene. At the basis of this environmental crisis lies the long held belief that humans consider themselves to be different from nature and nature is seen as a resource for human use and consumption. An intricate system of property rights has provided the tools to appropriate and commodify nature. Environmental law and rights discourses often re-emphasise and arguably solidify the old dichotomy between culture and nature. Despite hundreds of environmental laws, nature is still in decline. One way of subverting nature as the subject of property is to establish rights of nature. However, the legal recognition that ecosystems have the right to exist is still embedded in a discourse that privileges anthropocentrism over the realities of these ecosystems. But the ‘reality’ of climate change forces us to tackle head on the tension that exists between normative human governance systems and metaphysical realisms. This paper will draw upon the concept of the post-human condition to establish a dialogue between theories of Natural Law and Speculative Realism. Drawing upon a diffractive methodological approach, as conceptualised by Karen Barad, Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti, this paper develops a legal manifesto proposing that an epistemological-ontological-ethical framework can bring a new understanding to the legal condition in the Anthropocene. Through a close reading of traditional and speculative philosophical tractata, mind and matter merges in order to come to a better understanding about the nature of nature and the (post-)human condition within it.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2016
EventStrathclyde Symposium Revisionist Ontologies for Law and Human Rights in the Anthropocene - University of Strathclyde , Glasgow
Duration: 28 Oct 201628 Oct 2016


WorkshopStrathclyde Symposium Revisionist Ontologies for Law and Human Rights in the Anthropocene


  • ecological footprint
  • natural law theory

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