No purely epistemic theory can account for the naturalness of kinds

Synthese:1-19 (forthcoming)

Several philosophers have recently tried to define natural kinds in epistemic terms only. Given the persistent problems with finding a successful metaphysical theory, these philosophers argue that we would do better to describe natural kinds solely in terms of their epistemic usefulness, such as their role in supporting inductive inferences. In this paper, I argue against these epistemology-only theories of natural kinds and in favor of, at least partly, metaphysical theories. I do so in three steps. In the first section of the paper, I propose two desiderata for a theory of natural kinds. In the second section, I discuss one example of a ‘general’ epistemology-only theory, proposed by Marc Ereshefsky and Thomas Reydon, and argue that theories like theirs fail to provide adequate criteria of natural kinds. In the third section, I focus on one example of a ‘specific’ epistemology-only theory, proposed by P. D. Magnus, and use it to show why such theories cannot justify the claim that the proposed epistemic criteria account for the naturalness of kinds.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1806-8
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Mind, Language and Reality.H. Putnam - 1975 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 39 (2):361-362.
How to Be a Moral Realist.Richard Boyd - 1988 - In G. Sayre-McCord (ed.), Essays on Moral Realism. Cornell University Press. pp. 181-228.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.

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