David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
The Monist 94 (2):197-220 (2011)
In this paper I explore Aristotle’s views on natural kinds and the compatibility of pluralism and realism, a topic that has generated considerable interest among contemporary philosophers. I argue that, when it came to zoology, Aristotle denied that there is only one way of organizing the diversity of the living world into natural kinds that will yield a single, unified system of classification. Instead, living things can be grouped and regrouped into various cross-cutting kinds on the basis of objective similarities and differences in ways that subserve the explanatory context. Since the explanatory aims of zoology are diverse and variegated, the kinds it recognizes must be equally diverse and variegated. At the same time, there are certain constraints on which kinds can be selected. And those constraints derive more from the causal structure of the world than from the proclivities of the classifier (hence the realism). This distinguishes Aristotle’s version of pluralistic realism from those contemporary versions (like Dupré’s “promiscuous realism”) that treat all or most classifications of a given domain as equally legitimate and not just a sub-set of kinds recognized by the science that studies it. By contrast, Aristotle privileges scientifically important kinds on the basis of their role in causal investigations. On this picture natural kinds are those kinds with the sort of causal structure that allows them to enter into scientific explanations. In the final section I argue that Aristotle’s zoology should remain of interest to philosophers and biologists alike insofar as it combines a pluralistic form of realism with a rank-free approach to classification.
|Keywords||Ancient Philosophy Aristotle Classification Philosophy of Biology|
|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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
James G. Lennox (2001). Aristotle's Philosophy of Biology: Studies in the Origins of Life Science. Cambridge University Press.
Robert Heinaman (ed.) (1995). Aristotle and Moral Realism. Westview Press.
Michael Devitt (2011). Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms. In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. Mit Press.
Stephanie Ruphy (2010). Are Stellar Kinds Natural Kinds? A Challenging Newcomer in the Monism/Pluralism and Realism/Antirealism Debates. Philosophy of Science 77 (5):1109-1120.
Philip Kitcher (1984). Species. Philosophy of Science 51 (2):308-333.
Charlotte Witt (2012). Aristotle on Deformed Animal Kinds. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 43:83.
Marzia Soavi (2009). Antirealism and Artefact Kinds. Techne 13 (2):93-107.
Added to index2010-03-16
Total downloads272 ( #1,960 of 1,679,369 )
Recent downloads (6 months)24 ( #8,834 of 1,679,369 )
How can I increase my downloads?