Friday night topic: What value biodiversity?


— 6:24 PM on May 21, 2010

I have always wondered about the question of biodiversity. Does it matter that a species might disappear from the Earth? There are many more species than we even recognize, and the number we've identified is growing all of the time. Yet we are led to understand that biodiversity is under constant threat these days, and a great many folks treat the imperative to preserve biodiversity as a self-evident good, as if it were dictated by natural law. (I suspect most of those same folks don't subscribe to natural law theory, oddly enough.)

Do we have an imperative to preserve biodiversity, and if so why? How should we weigh that responsibility against, say, the prevention of human suffering or the advancement of human flourishing?

If it is a strong imperative, how does our newfound ability to synthesize a new species affect it? Must we preserve every species that we have created? Or just, perhaps, the warm and fuzzy ones?

   
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