We have argued that uncertainty about the application of the current maze of measures of biodiversity results, in part, from uncertainty about our reasons for conserving biodiversity in general. This is problematic for decisions about large-scale conservation, particularly where such conservation includes species and ecosystems whose instrumental value is currently unknown. We have argued that, in such cases, use of a general measure of biodiversity is justified on the grounds that it will best hedge our bets against current and future uncertainty about the location of instrumental value and the needs and preferences of human populations. If we are right, a general measure of biodiversity should aim at the maximisation of feature diversity. The most effective and tractable such measure will be one based on phylogenetic diversity.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Daniel Faith, Philippe Grandcolas, James Justus, Arne Mooers, Roseli Pellens, Kim Sterelny, Ted Toadvine and the many others who provided helpful suggestions.

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