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Concepts of Biodiversity, Pluralism, and Pragmatism: The Case of Walnut Forest Conservation in Central Asia

  • Elena Popa ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal SATS


This paper examines philosophical debates about concepts of biodiversity, making the case for conceptual pluralism. Taking a pragmatist perspective, I argue that normative concepts of biodiversity and eco-centric concepts of biodiversity can serve different purposes. The former would help stress the values of local communities, which have often been neglected by both early scientific approaches to conservation, and by policy makers prioritizing the political or economic interests of specific groups. The latter would help build local research programs independent of pressures from economic or political actors. I employ a case study on environmental research on walnut forests in Kyrgyzstan in support of my argument. Against tendencies to frame different understandings of biodiversity in terms of geographical areas, I propose an interpretation drawing on the philosophy of ecology. Adherence to environmental pragmatism enables a sufficiently complex picture of developing environmental research in the area, capturing issues about scientific framings and local understandings.

Corresponding author: Elena Popa, FLAME University, Pune, India, E-mail:


I would like to thank the anonymous referees of this journal, as well as one previous referee from History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences for feedback that has helped improve the paper. I am also grateful to James Plumtree for exchanging ideas and literature suggestions on the case study.


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Published Online: 2022-07-06
Published in Print: 2022-07-26

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