Are Natural Kinds Reducible?

In Alexander Hieke & Hannes Leitgeb (eds.), Reduction, abstraction, analysis: proceedings of the 31th International Ludwig Wittgenstein-Symposium in Kirchberg, 2008. Frankfurt: de Gruyter. pp. 127-136 (2009)
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We talk as if there are natural kinds and in particular we quantify over them. We can count the number of elements discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy, or the number of kinds of particle in the standard model. Consequently, it looks at first sight at least, that natural kinds are entities of a sort. In the light of this we may ask certain questions: is the apparent existence of natural kinds real or an illusion? And if real, what sort of entity are natural kinds? Are they sui generis? Or can they be identified with or reduced to some other kind of entity? In this essay I shall look at possible reasons for asserting that either kinds are no sort of entity, or, if they are entities, their existence is equivalent to some fact not involving kinds. Richard Boyd seems to take the view that the apparent existence of natural kinds is an illusion.



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Alexander James Bird
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

The metaphysics of natural kinds.Alexander Bird - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1397-1426.
Referring to Natural Kind Thingamajigs, and What They Are: A Reply to Needham.Alexander Bird - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):103-109.
Natural Kind Thingamajigs.Paul Needham - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):97 - 101.

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References found in this work

Realism in mathematics.Penelope Maddy - 1990 - New York: Oxford University Prress.
Meaning and reference.Hilary Putnam - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):699-711.
Meaning and Reference.Hilary Putnam - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 299-308.
Frege’s Conception of Numbers as Objects.Crispin Wright - 1983 - Critical Philosophy 1 (1):97.

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