Drakes, seadevils, and similarity fetishism

Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):857-870 (2011)
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Abstract

Homeostatic property clusters (HPCs) are offered as a way of understanding natural kinds, especially biological species. I review the HPC approach and then discuss an objection by Ereshefsky and Matthen, to the effect that an HPC qua cluster seems ill-fitted as a description of a polymorphic species. The standard response by champions of the HPC approach is to say that all members of a polymorphic species have things in common, namely dispositions or conditional properties. I argue that this response fails. Instances of an HPC kind need not all be similar in their exhibited properties. Instead, HPCs should instead be understood as unified by the underlying causal mechanism that maintains them. The causal mechanism can both produce and explain some systematic differences between a kind’s members. An HPC kind is best understood not as a single cluster of properties maintained in stasis by causal forces, but as a complex of related property clusters kept in relation by an underlying causal process. This approach requires recognizing that taxonomic systems serve both explanatory and inductive purposes

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P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany

Citations of this work

Scientific Kinds.Marc Ereshefsky & Thomas A. C. Reydon - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):969-986.
Natural Kinds and Natural Kind Terms: Myth and Reality.Sören Häggqvist & Åsa Wikforss - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):911-933.
Teleosemantics and Indeterminacy.Manolo Martínez - 2013 - Dialectica 67 (4):427-453.
Taxonomy, Ontology, and Natural Kinds.P. Magnus - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1427-1439.

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References found in this work

Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism.Niles Eldredge & Stephen Jay Gould - 1972 - In Thomas J. M. Schopf (ed.), Models in Paleobiology. Freeman Cooper. pp. 82-115.
A Matter of Individuality.David L. Hull - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.
Mechanisms and Natural Kinds.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (5):575-594.

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