11 Is biodiversity intrinsically valuable? (And what might that mean?)

Authored by: Katie McShane

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Biodiversity

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138827738
eBook ISBN: 9781315530215
Adobe ISBN: 9781315530208


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Michael Soulé famously claimed that the intrinsic value of biodiversity is one of the central normative postulates defining the field of conservation biology (Soulé 1985: 731). Other writers, while they haven’t gone quite that far, have nonetheless argued that intrinsic value claims are part of the philosophy behind the very idea of biodiversity conservation (Reyers et al. 2012), and that conservationists should insist on voicing their support for the intrinsic value of biodiversity (McCauley 2006). These claims have been quite controversial. Other writers have argued that intrinsic value claims are not useful – and are even counterproductive – in conservation (Maguire and Justus 2008).

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