The Philippines Supreme Court recently made a worldwide landmark decision, from a jurisprudential point of view, invoking for the first time ever the precautionary principle as a decisive basis for acting against GM crops. This decision has come under fire from scientists in the Philippines and America for being ‘anti-science’, but it has also been strongly defended. The defence throws up an issue of interest for philosophers, as the case for the defence prominently invokes recent work on the precautionary principle.
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I recently debated with Roger Scruton at the LSE on this question (you can listen to the podcast). This short article examines a couple of my main conclusions and from my own ongoing work in this area. My aim is to show how ecologism is the true heir of both socialism and conservatism, properly understood. A ‘socialism’ based in local and historical traditions; in the land, in resistance – a genuinely egalitarian socialism learning from Karl Polanyi and Andre Gorz more in the final analysis than from Karl Marx (let alone from John Rawls), and owing much in the present day in this country to Simon Fairlie and Maurice Glasman. And a ‘conservatism’ that is actually serious about conserving our ecosystems – a conservatism owing much in the present day to John Gray and Roger Scruton, as well as to ‘radical conservative’ thinkers such as Gandhi and Ivan Illich.