Can abstractions be causes?

Biology and Philosophy 5 (1):63-77 (1990)
The Empiricist or Lockean view says natural kinds do not exist objectively in nature but are practical categories reflecting use of words. The Modern, Ostensive view says they do exist, and one can refer to such a kind by ostention and recursion, assuming his designation of it is related causally to the kind itself. However, this leads to a problem: Kinds are abstract repeatables, and it seems impossible that abstractions could have causal force. In defence of the Modern view, I suggest we can think of kinds as — or as like — ecological niches existing in nature, which are causally effective by virtue of the fact that they predictively determine (some) properties of the things that happen to occupy them.
Keywords Natural kinds  abstractions  causality  ecological niches
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF02423833
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,780
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Mind, Language, and Reality.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - Cambridge University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume - 1738 - Oxford University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1991 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Blackwell. pp. 449-451.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 431-433.
Patterns of Discovery.Norwood Russell Hanson - 1958 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Why P Rather Than Q? The Curiosities of Fact and Foil.Eric Barnes - 1994 - Philosophical Studies 73 (1):35 - 53.
Global Idealism/Local Materialism.Koichiro Matsuno & Stanley N. Salthe - 1995 - Biology and Philosophy 10 (3):309-337.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Essences and Natural Kinds.Alexander Bird - 2009 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge. pp. 497--506.
Classical Physical Abstraction.Ernest W. Adams - 1993 - Erkenntnis 38 (2):145 - 167.
Diseases as Natural Kinds.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (5):347-369.
"Realism and the Problem of" Infimae Species".Crawford Elder - 2007 - American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2):111 - 127.
Strategies of Abstraction.Richard Levins - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):741-755.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
20 ( #274,657 of 2,214,632 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #408,824 of 2,214,632 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature