Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Biodiversity and Law

Research Handbook on Biodiversity and Law

Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series

Edited by Michael Bowman, Peter Davies and Edward Goodwin

This wide-ranging Handbook presents a range of perspectives from leading international experts reflecting up-to-date research thinking on the subject of biodiversity law, the crucial importance of which to human welfare is only now being fully appreciated. Through a rigorous examination of the principles, procedures and practices that characterise this area of law, this timely volume effectively highlights its objectives, implementation, achievements, and prospects. Presenting thematic rather than regime-based coverage, the editors demonstrate the state-of-the-art of current research and identify future research needs and directions.

Chapter 2: In whose interest? Instrumental and intrinsic value in biodiversity law

Mattia Fosci and Tom West

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, public international law


This chapter deals with the role of values in international biodiversity law. It begins by introducing the concepts of instrumental and intrinsic value (Section 1) and examining the extent to which they are reflected in international biodiversity law (Section 2). It then explores the two approaches in more detail, analysing their respective shortcomings and advantages (Sections 3 and 4). The conclusions look at reconciling these two theories of value within the same system of environmental protection. The two main value-systems underpinning the development of biodiversity law are based on the seemingly competing concepts of instrumental and intrinsic value. Instrumental value typically describes the worth biodiversity derives from its human utility: for instance, the instrumental value of certain trees lies in timber production; animals can be used for food; plants and flowers for their medicinal properties and so forth. It relies on the assumption that a rational entity (the valuer) can attribute value to another entity (the valuee), and it endorses an anthropocentric view of the natural world founded on the conviction that humanity is superior to, and is thus permitted to exploit, the natural world. Instrumental valuation is a manifestation of instrumental rationality, which also underpins rational choice as an economic, sociological and criminological theory. Bowman distinguishes instrumental value from inherent value, which he defines as the worth an entity possesses for its very existence rather than for its practical utility.

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