Home > Uncategorized > Marc Ereshefsky – Natural Kinds, Classification, and Scientific Practice

Marc Ereshefsky – Natural Kinds, Classification, and Scientific Practice

Concordia University

Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Lecture Series

Prof. Marc Ereshefsky

University of Calgary

Natural Kinds, Classification, and Scientific Practice

Philosophers typically require that natural kinds exist independently of human thought. However, requiring that natural kinds be mind-independent is problematic. Many classifications of kinds that help us achieve our epistemic and pragmatic aims refer to entities, psychological states, and behaviors that depend on us. Think of synthetic chemicals, genetically modified organisms, psychological categories, and social kinds. Instead of requiring that natural kinds be mind-independent, I suggest borrowing an idea from epistemology and require that natural kind classifications be defeasible. The notion of defeasibility helps us see when natural kind classifications should and should not depend on us. Such an account is flexible enough to capture the different reasons scientists have for positing natural kind classifications and also places a significant constraint on what is a natural kind.

When:   Friday October 7, 2016 3:00-5:00 pm

Where: 2145 Mackay, S 201

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