Taxonomy, ontology, and natural kinds

Synthese 195 (4):1427-1439 (2018)

Authors
P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany
Abstract
When we ask what natural kinds are, there are two different things we might have in mind. The first, which I’ll call the taxonomy question, is what distinguishes a category which is a natural kind from an arbitrary class. The second, which I’ll call the ontology question, is what manner of stuff there is that realizes the category. Many philosophers have systematically conflated the two questions. The confusion is exhibited both by essentialists and by philosophers who pose their accounts in terms of similarity. It also leads to misreading philosophers who do make the distinction. Distinguishing the questions allows for a more subtle understanding of both natural kinds and their underlying metaphysics.
Keywords Natural kinds  Causation  Taxonomy  Ontology  John Stuart Mill  Homeostatic property clusters  HPC
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0785-2
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References found in this work BETA

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.

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Citations of this work BETA

Cautious Realism and Middle Range Ontology.P. D. Magnus - 2018 - Metascience 27 (3):365-370.

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