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‘Biodiversity’ as a Primarily Normative and Inseparable Thick Concept

Makineni, Vamsi and Sarkar, Sahotra (2021) ‘Biodiversity’ as a Primarily Normative and Inseparable Thick Concept. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this paper, I expand on Sarkar’s (2019) view that the term ‘biodiversity’ should be understood primarily as a normative concept with a descriptive component molded to the evaluation; hence, ‘biodiversity’ is a thick term. The idea of inseparability is advocated for by using Bernard William’s example of thick terms as context-oriented whilst taking issue with McDowell’s “anti-disentangling” argument and other contemporary arguments for separability. Compared to other papers in the area of environmental pragmatism, this paper argues that conservation scientists will achieve greater success in conservation efforts by framing ‘biodiversity’ as a primarily normative concept to the value system of the local community.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Makineni, Vamsivmakineni2020@gmail.com0000-0001-6350-2524
Sarkar, Sahotra
Additional Information: Although it has been argued in the past that 'biodiversity' is recognized as being normative and expressing a specific value system, there is still considerable disconnect between conservation authorities and the communities in which conservation projects take place. However, there is another overlapping issue: 'biodiversity' is utilized in an insufficient manner which leads to this disconnect. The field of conservation biology was created such that diversity of organisms, ecological complexity, and intrinsic value are prioritized while other factors are less prioritized. Thus, conserving biodiversity with these preconceived notions would confer a higher ontological status towards normativity with the descriptive component molded to the subjective. 'Biodiversity' then can be thought of as a thick term for the purpose of epistemic authorities to communicate their evaluative outlook on a current situation. Furthermore, a thick term like 'biodiversity' is argued as not violating the fact-value dichotomy proposed by David Hume due to the context-specific nature of the conversation whereby the receiver does not necessarily need to reflect on such a term to understand the normative implication. Moreover, 'biodiversity' is realized as not carrying the same evaluative implication across cultures nor does the term carry values that stay static over time. Therefore, this interpretation of 'biodiversity' acting as a primarily normative term for rousing communities to action is the strongest argument for better authority-receiver communication. In this paper, I discuss the nature of 'biodiversity' and how to best utilize it for better success of conservation projects with conservation authorities and the communities involved. I present potential counterarguments for not using 'biodiversity' as a primarily normative and inseparable thick concept and I provide rebuttals to maintain the unique characteristic of utilizing the term. Furthermore, I formalize the past misapplications of 'biodiversity' through presenting a specific failure of authorities in coordinating national values against community values for the purpose of conserving mangrove trees in Indonesia. Overall, I end with a discussion of the renewed importance of framing 'biodiversity' in a manner that coincides with community values for the success of conservation projects.
Keywords: Biodiversity, Bernard Williams, John McDowell, normative, Sahotra Sarkar, thick term
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Mr. Vamsi Makineni
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2021 04:05
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2021 04:05
Item ID: 19562
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19562

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