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Christopher Stone is (as of 2010) the J. Thomas McCarthy Trustee Chair in Law at the University of Southern California. He is an expert in environmental issues, particularly environmental law and environmental ethics. In 1972, he published the widely influential article “Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” This article became a foundational piece in the literature of the emerging field of environmental ethics and philosophy. The legal status of natural entities continues to be a widely debated topic, and his work still serves as an important resource for thinking through such issues.

Beginning his article, Stone credits Charles Darwin for defining what is called “moral extensionism.” As our species has evolved and progressed, our moral scope has expanded to include more entities ...

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