Working paper

The Dasgupta Review and the problem of anthropocentrism

Nicolas Treich


As is customary in economics, the Dasgupta Review on the economics of biodiversity adopts an anthropocentric approach: that is, among the millions of species on Earth, the Review accords a moral value to only one species; ours. Building on the literature in ethics, I explain why it is morally problematic to assume that other species – at least, sentient animals – only have an instrumental value for humans. The Review defends its approach, but I advance counter arguments. I highlight that preserving the diversity of life in ecosystems is not the same as taking care of the wellbeing of sentient species living in those ecosystems. Some biodiversity policies, such as protecting the blue whale or reducing meat consumption, largely satisfy both nthropocentric and non‐anthropocentric objectives. Other policies, such as the reintroduction of wolves or the eradication of invasive species, induce conflicts between these objectives. I finally discuss why the anthropocentric view remains prevalent in the research on biodiversity and present some potential non‐anthropocentric research directions


Biodiversity; environmental economics; anthropocentrism; animal welfare; sentience; conservation.;

JEL codes

  • Q51: Valuation of Environmental Effects
  • Q20: General
  • Q18: Agricultural Policy • Food Policy
  • I30: General
  • Z00: General

Replaced by

Nicolas Treich, The Dasgupta Review and the problem of anthropocentrism, Environmental and Resource Economics, March 2022.


Nicolas Treich, The Dasgupta Review and the problem of anthropocentrism, TSE Working Paper, February 2022.

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, February 2022