Natural Kinds: Rosy Dawn, Scholastic Twilight

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 61:203-239 (2007)
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Abstract

The rosy dawn of my title refers to that optimistic time when the logical concept of a natural kind originated in Victorian England. The scholastic twilight refers to the present state of affairs. I devote more space to dawn than twilight, because one basic problem was there from the start, and by now those origins have been forgotten. Philosophers have learned many things about classification from the tradition of natural kinds. But now it is in disarray and is unlikely to be put back together again. My argument is less founded on objections to the numerous theories now in circulation, than on the sheer proliferation of incompatible views. There no longer exists what Bertrand Russell called ‘the doctrine of natural kinds’—one doctrine. Instead we have a slew of distinct analyses directed at unrelated projects.

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Ian Hacking
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Citations of this work

Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
Unity of Science.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scientific kinds.Marc Ereshefsky & Thomas A. C. Reydon - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):969-986.
Unconscious Perception Reconsidered.Ian Phillips - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (4):471-514.

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References found in this work

Ontological relativity and other essays.Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.) - 1969 - New York: Columbia University Press.
Species.Philip Kitcher - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (2):308-333.
Ways of Worldmaking.J. M. Moravcsik - 1978 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 37 (4):483-485.
Scientific Essentialism.H. Beebee - 2004 - Mind 113 (450):334-340.

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