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7 Rowan B. Martin Introduction Marshall Murphree’s ‘laws’ are rules linking people, conservation, sustainable use and development. Murphree himself did not call them ‘laws’ – the label was given to them by his admirers. In some of his writings, he enunciated principles which later assumed such status; elsewhere in his work, it has been left to his large readership to identify and confer the appellation on particular epigrammatic truths. The list of the principles has become so extensive that nobody can remember what, for example, is Murphree’s ‘seventh law’. This paper examines Murphree’s publications, addresses and presentations from 1991 to 2005 and extracts from them a list of laws, principles, definitions, descriptions, critical insights and quotable quotes. The work is not exhaustive. I had not been able to examine all of Murphree’s papers. A comprehensive bibliography is given at the end of the chapter on those works which have been examined. The bibliography is restricted to Murphree ’s individual and joint papers; references to other authors are placed in footnotes on the relevant pages. Definitions Very early in the work, it became clear that some definitions were needed. The following, from Webster’s Dictionary, has been chosen: Law: Philosophy and Science: A statement of an order or relation of phenomena which, so far is known, is invariable under the given conditions … such laws are often specified by prefixing the name of the discoverer. Thus my criterion for what constitutes a law is invariability in the context in which it is used.1 It is also a ‘high level’ statement covering a range of situations, not a simple rule for a specific case. Of course a little latitude must be permitted . For example, Ohm’s Law permits no latitude whatsoever (the relationship between voltage, current and resistance is fixed, precise and repeatable) but, in 2 Murphree’s Laws, Principles, Rules & Definitions Rowan B. Martin 8 MURPHREE’S LAWS, PRINCIPLES, RULES & DEFINITIONS the description of what are now known as ‘complex systems’2 (Holling 2001), it would be unreasonable to except the same exactitude, especially because all the multitude of potential applications cannot be tested. Having defined a ‘law’, a category is required for those statements, also of a general nature, which are less global in their scope and do not demand invariability. Webster’s Dictionary defines a ‘principle’ (fourth definition) as: A fundamental truth; a comprehensive law or doctrine from which others are derived or on which others are founded; a general truth; an elementary proposition ; a fundamental assumption; a maxim; a postulate. From these two definitions, it would appear that a law and principle are equivocal. In the typology which follows, the distinction is that principles are useful for guiding policy or implementation whereas laws are simply a statement of fact requiring no application to make them useful. Taking the typology further, whereas a principle emphasises the idea of a general application, a rule emphasises a more specific direction or regulation as in ‘ … to follow certain principles of administration; to lay down certain administrative rules …’ Some of Murphree’s pronouncements fall in the category of definitions. Others could be described as maxims, aphorisms, axioms or epigrams. Where any of these are reproduced below, no attempt is made to categorise them. It is not possible to create a flowing narrative out of the chosen subject matter. Murphree’s text is lean, parsimonious and elegant with the result that every paper examined is rich in potentially quotable material. Study approach The simplest approach was to start at the beginning and work through Murphree ’s writings in chronological order extracting clauses, sentences and paragraphs that appear worthy of mention. Indeed, this is how the work began. The problem with this method is that the end result is a ‘shotgun blast’ of quotable quotes without any coherent theme. So I grouped the subject matter according to the following topics: Natural resources management and sustainable use Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM): General Policy and Tenure Scaling-up State protected Areas Bureaucracy/Treaties Science and General Inevitably, I found many laws and principles which could be placed in more 9 Rowan B. Martin than one category because of the complexity of their content. Perhaps that is to be expected. I have chosen to keep much of the introductory text relating to any ‘law’ or ‘principle’ since it is the rationale for the dictum. On examining the material, it became apparent...


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