Environmental Ethics

Volume 46, Issue 1, Spring 2024

Private Property and the Environment

Lilian KrothOrcid-ID
Pages 71-89

Property and “le Propre”
Limits, Law, and a New Naturalism with Michel Serres

This paper is concerned with Michel Serres’s critique of property. Through the concept of ‘le propre,’ which in French can mean both ‘clean’ and ‘one’s own,’ and a naturalist reading of Rousseau, he proposes a ‘stercorian’ eco-criticism of property. Focusing on concepts of limits provides a fruitful angle from which to illuminate Serres’s critique of law and property. The first section will introduce Serres as a thinker of limits, borders, and boundaries. In the second and third parts, attention will be drawn to his eco-criticism of law and property from a feminist and philosophy of science perspective, concluding with a fourth part, in which Serres’s approach will be contextualized in relation to other naturalisms. His work has far-reaching consequences for discourses of human agency in the context of the Anthropocene and makes a crucial contribution to how a new naturalist criticism of property might be conceived.