Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):580–609 (2003)
|Abstract||It is often noted that institutional objects and artifacts depend on human beliefs and intentions and so fail to meet the realist paradigm of mind-independent objects. In this paper I draw out exactly in what ways the thesis of mind-independence fails, and show that it has some surprising consequences. For the specific forms of mind-dependence involved entail that we have certain forms of epistemic privilege with regard to our own institutional and artifactual kinds, protecting us from certain possibilities of ignorance and error; they also demonstrate that not all cases of reference to these kinds can proceed along a causal model. As a result, realist views in ontology, epistemology, and semantics that were developed with natural scientific kinds in mind cannot fully apply to the everyday world. In closing I consider some wider consequences of these results for social science and philosophy.|
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