Dynamic partitioning and the conventionality of kinds

Philosophy of Science 74 (4):527-546 (2007)
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Lewis sender‐receiver games illustrate how a meaningful term language might evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis 1969; Skyrms 2006). Here we consider how a meaningful language with a primitive grammar might evolve in a somewhat more subtle sort of game. The evolution of such a language involves the co‐evolution of partitions of the physical world into what may seem, at least from the perspective of someone using the language, to correspond to canonical natural kinds. While the evolved language may allow for the sort of precise representation that is required for successful coordinated action and prediction, the apparent natural kinds reflected in its structure may be purely conventional. This has both positive and negative implications for the limits of naturalized metaphysics



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Jeffrey Barrett
University of California, Irvine

Citations of this work

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Self-assembling Games.Jeffrey A. Barrett & Brian Skyrms - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2):329-353.

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References found in this work

Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1965 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Lewis - 1969 - Synthese 26 (1):153-157.
Signals.Brian Skyrms - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):489-500.
Evolution and the explanation of meaning.Simon M. Huttegger - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (1):1-27.

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