A general model for biodiversity and its value

Authored by: Daniel P. Faith

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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This chapter addresses philosophical issues related to the definitions, and values, of biodiversity. The term “biodiversity” – a contraction of “biological diversity” – logically will reflect some notion of diversity, or living variation. Thus, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, article 2; www.cbd.int/sp/) provides this definition: “the variability among living organisms from all sources … This includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.” The Conceptual Framework of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES; Díaz et al. 2015: 12) also defines biodiversity as variation. However, it also includes “changes in abundance and distribution over time and space within and among species, biological communities and ecosystems.” Including change may capture “variability” more than variety: oddly, the extinction of a species would imply an increase in biodiversity (because abundance changes in going to zero). These issues are avoided when “variability” is interpreted to mean “living variation” (e.g. Mace et al. 2012).

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