Natural Kinds, Mind Independence, and Defeasibility

Philosophy of Science 85 (5):845-856 (2018)
Authors
Marc Ereshefsky
University of Calgary
Abstract
A standard requirement on natural kinds is that they be mind independent. However, many kinds in the human and social sciences, even the natural sciences, depend on human thought. This article suggests that the mind independence requirement on natural kinds be replaced with the requirement that natural kind classifications be defeasible. The defeasibility requirement does not require that natural kinds be mind independent, so it does not exclude mind dependent scientific kinds from being natural kinds. Furthermore, the defeasibility requirement captures the idea that natural kind classifications are tools for investigating the empirical world.
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DOI 10.1086/699676
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