Biology & Philosophy

, 33:15 | Cite as

Biodiversity is a chimera, and chimeras aren’t real

  • Carlos SantanaEmail author


A recent article by Burch-Brown and Archer (Biol Philos, 2017) provides compelling arguments that biodiversity is either a natural kind or a pragmatically-valid scientific entity. I call into question three of these arguments. The first argument contends that biodiversity is a Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC). I respond that there is no plausible homeostatic mechanism that would make biodiversity an HPC natural kind. The second argument proposes that biodiversity is a multiply-realizable functional kind. I respond that there is no shared function to ground this account. The final, and strongest, argument, is that biodiversity is an ineliminable explanans and explanandum in various subdisciplines of biology. I argue that once we look at the details of the relevant research, not only does biodiversity in a broad sense not function in explanatory roles, but we must eliminate biodiversity in favor of more specific concepts in order to make sense of the leading explanations in contemporary ecology and conservation science.


Biodiversity Natural kinds Ecology Conservation Philosophy of biology Environmental ethics 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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