‘‘Biodiversity’’ and biological diversities

Consequences of pluralism between biology and policy

Authored by: David M. Frank

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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Coined in the 1980s as a portmanteau of ‘‘biological diversity’’ by life scientists reporting to policy-makers about anthropogenic loss of species and ecosystems in the twentieth century, the term ‘‘biodiversity’’ has since taken on positive connotations for many concerned about the fate of life on Earth. However, ‘‘biological diversity’’ as a theoretical term in the life sciences had existed at least since the 1950s, and human interest in life’s variety is at least as old as biology. ‘‘Biodiversity’’ has become a term used widely by life scientists, conservation biologists, environmental philosophers, policy-makers, journalists, and activists. The conservation of biological diversity as such, as a more general objective distinct from the conservation of particular species, ecosystems, or landscape features, has become the stated goal of conservation biologists, many conservation organizations, as well as signatory nations to the 1992 Rio Summit’s Convention on Biological Diversity. 1

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