Systems thinking and the law in the Age of the Anthropocene

Book chapter

Abstract: Society’s mental models and causal beliefs are being seriously challenged by the complexity, scale and speed of global environmental change in the Anthropocene. To understand how to regulate business in this context, a recognition of the interconnectedness and interdependency between business and the rest of society and the environment is crucial. Social-ecological systems (SES) thinking is an approach that facilitates a better understanding of how to see the relationship between structure and behaviour, which can alleviate the understanding of how systems work. However, despite its convincing benefits, it is yet to be fully integrated into legal analysis. Building on recent literature in the field, I delineate business law as fit for purpose in the Anthropocene through synthesising the terms institutional fit complexity, interconnectivity, and polycentricity from an ethical perspective. The SES approach is uniquely suited for this exercise as it warrant that all relevant issues are taken into account.

Read chapter

Citation: Ahlström, A. 2022. Systems thinking and the law in the Age of the Anthropocene. Preprint of chapter forthcoming in Sjåfjell, B., C. Liao and A. Argyrou (eds.) Innovation Business for Sustainability: Regulatory Approaches in the Anthropocene. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK. Chapter 3.

Keywords: Business Law, Systems thinking, Anthropocene, Ethics