David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
[Journal (Paginated)] (in Press) 2 (1):1-30 (2001)
This essay examines the proposal that psychological essentialism results from a history of natural selection acting on human representation and inference systems. It has been argued that the features that distinguish essentialist representational systems are especially well suited for representing natural kinds. If the evolved function of essentialism is to exploit the rich inductive potential of such kinds, then it must be subserved by cognitive mechanisms that carry out at least three distinct functions: identifying these kinds in the environment, constructing essentialized representations of them, and constraining inductive inferences about kinds. Moreover, there are different kinds of kinds, ranging from nonliving substances to biological taxa to within-species kinds such as sex, and the causal processes that render these categories coherent for the purposes of inductive generalization vary. If the evolved function of essentialism is to support inductive generalization under ignorance of true causes, and if kinds of kinds vary in the implicit assumptions that support valid inductive inferences about them, then we expect different, functionally incompatible modes of essentialist thinking for different kinds. In particular, there should be differences in how biological and nonbiological substances, biological taxa, and biological and social role kinds are essentialized. The functional differences between these kinds of essentialism are discussed.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Nelson Goodman (1983). Fact, Fiction, and Forecast. Harvard University Press.
John Dupré (1993). The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science. Harvard University Press.
Edward E. Smith & L. Douglas (1981). Categories and Concepts. Harvard University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Pascal Boyer (2003). Religious Thought and Behaviour as by-Products of Brain Function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (3):119-124.
Cristina Moya & Robert Boyd (2015). Different Selection Pressures Give Rise to Distinct Ethnic Phenomena. Human Nature 26 (1):1-27.
Amanda C. Brandone & Susan A. Gelman (2009). Differences in Preschoolers’ and Adults’ Use of Generics About Novel Animals and Artifacts: A Window Onto a Conceptual Divide. Cognition 110 (1):1-22.
Andreas De Block & Bart Du Laing (2007). Paving the Way for an Evolutionary Social Constructivism. Biological Theory 2 (4):337-348.
Similar books and articles
Ingo Brigandt (2009). Natural Kinds in Evolution and Systematics: Metaphysical and Epistemological Considerations. Acta Biotheoretica 57 (1-2):77-97.
Gregory M. Mikkelson (2003). Ecological Kinds and Ecological Laws. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1390-1400.
Bence Nanay (2010). Population Thinking as Trope Nominalism. Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
Robert A. Wilson, Matthew J. Barker & Ingo Brigandt (2007). When Traditional Essentialism Fails. Philosophical Topics 35 (1-2):189-215.
Marc Ereshefsky (2010). What's Wrong with the New Biological Essentialism. Philosophy of Science 77 (5):674-685.
Kathrin Koslicki (2008). Natural Kinds and Natural Kind Terms. Philosophy Compass 3 (4):789-802.
Evan Fales (1982). Natural Kinds and Freaks of Nature. Philosophy of Science 49 (1):67-90.
Samir Okasha (2002). Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism. Synthese 131 (2):191-213.
John S. Wilkins (2013). Biological Essentialism and the Tidal Change of Natural Kinds. Science and Education 22 (2):221-240.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads86 ( #46,946 of 1,792,063 )
Recent downloads (6 months)15 ( #54,125 of 1,792,063 )
How can I increase my downloads?