Realism and human kinds

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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    References found in this work BETA
    Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
    Daniel C. Dennett (1990). The Interpretation of Texts, People and Other Artifacts. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (Supplement) 50:177-194.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Muhammad Ali Khalidi (2010). Interactive Kinds. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):335-360.
    Amie L. Thomasson (2005). The Ontology of Art and Knowledge in Aesthetics. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (3):221–229.

    View all 13 citations

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