Hershenov (2005) gives two interesting, related arguments, which he calls ‘symmetry arguments’, to the effect that a living body or an organism cannot be identical to a corpse, superficial appearances to the contrary. I relate the two arguments briefly and then criticize them for related weaknesses.
Here I defend the position that some singular terms for properties are rigid designators, responding to Stephen P. Schwartz’s interesting criticisms of that position. First, I argue that my position does not depend on ontological parsimony with respect to properties – e.g., there is no need to claim that there are only natural properties – to get around the problem of “unusual properties.” Second, I argue that my position does not confuse sameness of meaning across possible worlds with sameness of (...) designation, or rigid designation. Third, I argue that my position does not founder by way of failing to assign rigidity the work of grounding a posteriori necessity. (shrink)
Joseph LaPorte argues that scientists have not discovered that sentences about natural kinds are true rather than false. Instead, scientists have found that these sentences were vaguely phrased in the language of earlier speakers and they have thus refined the meanings of the terms to validate the sentences. In the process, however, they have also changed the meaning of the terms. This book will appeal to students and professionals in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology and the philosophy (...) of language. (shrink)
In a recent article, Alex Levine raises a paradox. It appears that, given some relatively uncontroversial premises about how a species term comes to refer to its species, a type specimen belongs necessarily and contingently to its species. According to Levine, this problem arises if species are individuals rather than natural kinds. I argue that the problem can be generalized: the problem also arises if species are kinds and type specimens are paradigmatic members used to baptize names for species. Indeed, (...) the same problem arises with respect to kinds like gold and the samples used to ground names for them. After arguing that the paradox arises whether or not species are individuals, I attempt to show how the paradox can be resolved. Levine's argument that a type specimen belongs necessarily to its species is specious. The appeal of the argument stems from a failure to distinguish between two different modal statements concerning type specimens, one de dicto and the other de re. Type specimens belong contingently to their respective species. Even so, they can be known a priori to belong to them: hence, that a particular type specimen belongs to its species is an example of contingent a priori knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I take issue with the doctrine that organisms belong of their very essence to the natural kinds (or biological taxa, if these are not kinds) to which they belong. This view holds that any human essentially belongs to the species Homo sapiens, any feline essentially belongs to the cat family, and so on. I survey the various competing views in biological systematics. These offer different explanations for what it is that makes a member of one species, family, (...) etc. a member of that taxon. Unfortunately, none of them offers an explanation that is compatible with the essentialism in question. (shrink)