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Natural Kind Essentialism Revisited

Mind 124 (495):795-822 (2015)

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  1. No, water (still) doesn’t have a microstructural essence.Sören Häggqvist - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (2):1-13.
    Häggqvist and Wikforss argued that in the case of so-called natural kind terms, semantic externalism relies on an untenable metaphysics of kinds: microessentialism. They further claimed that this metaphysics fails, for largely empirical reasons. Focussing on the case of water, Hoefer and Martí European Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 9, rejoin that suitably construed, microessentialism is correct. I argue that their defence of microessentialism fails.
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  • Against Sider on Fundamentality.David Mathers - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (4):823-838.
    Sider’s Writing the Book of the World gives an account of fundamentality in terms of his central ideological notion ‘structure’. Here I first argue against Sider’s claim that to be fundamental to a degree is to be structural to a degree. I argue there’s a pair of properties, P1 and P2, such that P1 is the more fundamental, but Sider is committed to counting P2 as the more structural. I then argue that if relative structure and relative fundamentality can come (...)
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  • Reflections on Naming and Necessity.Michael Devitt - 2022 - Wiley: Theoria 88 (2):406-433.
    Theoria, Volume 88, Issue 2, Page 406-433, April 2022.
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  • Natural Kinds, Mind-Independence, and Unification Principles.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-23.
    There have been many attempts to determine what makes a natural kind real, chief among them is the criterion according to which natural kinds must be mind-independent. But it is difficult to specify this criterion: many supposed natural kinds have an element of mind-dependence. I will argue that the mind-independence criterion is nevertheless a good one, if correctly understood: the mind-independence criterion concerns the unification principles for natural kinds. Unification principles determine how natural kinds unify their properties, and only those (...)
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  • Soames’s Deflationism About Modality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (6):1367-1379.
    One type of deflationism about metaphysical modality suggests that it can be analysed strictly in terms of linguistic or conceptual content and that there is nothing particularly metaphysical about modality. Scott Soames is explicitly opposed to this trend. However, a detailed study of Soames’s own account of modality reveals that it has striking similarities with the deflationary account. In this paper I will compare Soames’s account of a posteriori necessities concerning natural kinds with the deflationary one, specifically Alan Sidelle’s account, (...)
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  • Framing the Epistemic Schism of Statistical Mechanics.Javier Anta - 2021 - Proceedings of the X Conference of the Spanish Society of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science.
    In this talk I present the main results from Anta (2021), namely, that the theoretical division between Boltzmannian and Gibbsian statistical mechanics should be understood as a separation in the epistemic capabilities of this physical discipline. In particular, while from the Boltzmannian framework one can generate powerful explanations of thermal processes by appealing to their microdynamics, from the Gibbsian framework one can predict observable values in a computationally effective way. Finally, I argue that this statistical mechanical schism contradicts the Hempelian (...)
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  • An ontology of weak entity realism for HPC kinds.Reuben Sass - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):11861-11880.
    This paper defends an ontology of weak entity realism for homeostatic property cluster (HPC) theories of natural kinds, adapted from Bird’s (Synthese 195(4):1397–1426, 2018) taxonomy of such theories. Weak entity realism about HPC kinds accepts the existence of natural kinds. Weak entity realism denies two theses: that (1) HPC kinds have mind-independent essences, and that (2) HPC kinds reduce to entities, such as complex universals, posited only by metaphysical theories. Strong entity realism accepts (1) and (2), whereas moderate entity realism (...)
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  • Hart and Putnam on Rules and Paradigms: A Reply to Stavropoulos.Alexandre Müller Fonseca - 2018 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 31 (1):53-77.
    Near the end of the last century, some legal philosophers adapted the so called causal theories of reference to solve internal problems in legal theory. Among those philosophers, Nicos Stavropoulos adjusted Hilary Putnam’s semantic externalism claiming it as a better philosophical view than legal positivism defended by Herbert Hart. According to him, what determines the correct application of a legal rule must be determined by the objects themselves. In that case, what determines the reference of legal terms is an issue (...)
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  • Induction and Natural Necessities.Stathis Psillos - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):327-340.
    Some philosophers who believe that there are necessary connections in nature take it that an advantage of their commitment is that the problem of induction is solved. This paper aims to offer a comprehensive refutation of the arguments necessitarians use to show that if natural necessities are posited, then there is no problem of induction. In section 2, two models of natural necessity are presented. The “Contingent Natural Necessity” section examines David Armstrong’s explanationist ‘solution’ to the problem of induction. The (...)
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  • No Purely Epistemic Theory Can Account for the Naturalness of Kinds.Olivier Lemeire - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 12):2907-2925.
    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 (...)
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  • The Resemblance Structure of Natural Kinds: A Formal Model for Resemblance Nominalism.Javier Belastegui Lazcano - 2021 - Dissertation, Universidad Del País Vasco
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  • How Science and Semantics Settle the Issue of Natural Kind Essentialism.Christian Nimtz - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (1):149-170.
    Standard arguments for essentialism with respect to natural kinds such as gold, star, water or tiger enlist essentialist principles or essentialist intuitions. I argue that we need neither. All it takes to establish essentialism for the kinds in question are insights from science and semantics. Semantics establishes that natural kind predicates such as “is gold” or “is a star” are paradigm terms whose application conditions are relationally determined, object involving, and actuality dependent. Science assures us that a posteriori hypotheses such (...)
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  • Complexity begets crosscutting, dooms hierarchy.Joyce C. Havstad - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7665-7696.
    There is a perennial philosophical dream of a certain natural order for the natural kinds. The name of this dream is ‘the hierarchy requirement’. According to this postulate, proper natural kinds form a taxonomy which is both unique and traditional. Here I demonstrate that complex scientific objects exist: objects which generate different systems of scientific classification, produce myriad legitimate alternatives amongst the nonetheless still natural kinds, and make the hierarchical dream impossible to realize, except at absurdly great cost. Philosophical hopes (...)
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  • Current Perspectives in Philosophy of Biology.Joaquin Suarez Ruiz & Rodrigo A. Lopez Orellana - 2019 - Humanities Journal of Valparaiso 14:7-426.
    Current Perspectives in Philosophy of Biology.
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  • On Deriving Essentialism From the Theory of Reference.Jussi Haukioja - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2141-2151.
    Causal theories of reference for natural kind terms are widely agreed to play a central role in arguments for the claim that theoretical identity statements such as “Water is H2O” are necessary, if true. However, there is also fairly wide-spread agreement, due to the arguments of Nathan Salmon, that causal theories of reference do not alone establish such essentialism about natural kinds: an independent, non-trivial essentialist premise is also needed. In this paper I will question this latter agreement. I will (...)
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  • Logically Simple Properties and Relations.Jan Plate - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16:1-40.
    This paper presents an account of what it is for a property or relation (or ‘attribute’ for short) to be logically simple. Based on this account, it is shown, among other things, that the logically simple attributes are in at least one important way sparse. This in turn lends support to the view that the concept of a logically simple attribute can be regarded as a promising substitute for Lewis’s concept of a perfectly natural attribute. At least in part, the (...)
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  • Conceivability and the Epistemology of Modality.Asger Bo Skjerning Steffensen - 2015 - Dissertation, Aarhus University
    The dissertation is in the format of a collection of several academic texts, composed of a two-part presentation and three papers on the topic of conceivability and the epistemology of modality. The presentation is composed of, first, a general introduction to conceivability theses and objections and, second, a discussion of two cases. Following the presentation, Asger provides three papers. The first paper, Pretense and Conceivability: A reply to Roca-Royes, presents a problem and a dilemma for Roca-Royes’ Non-Standard Dilemma for conceivability-based (...)
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  • Putting Modal Metaphysics First.Antonella Mallozzi - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 8):1-20.
    I propose that we approach the epistemology of modality by putting modal metaphysics first and, specifically, by investigating the metaphysics of essence. Following a prominent Neo-Aristotelian view, I hold that metaphysical necessity depends on the nature of things, namely their essences. I further clarify that essences are core properties having distinctive superexplanatory powers. In the case of natural kinds, which is my focus in the paper, superexplanatoriness is due to the fact that the essence of a kind is what causes (...)
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  • 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.
    The article examines the role of natural kinds in semantic theorizing, which has largely been conducted in isolation from relevant work in science, metaphysics, and philosophy of science. We argue that the Kripke–Putnam account of natural kind terms, despite recent claims to the contrary, depends on a certain metaphysics of natural kinds; that the metaphysics usually assumed—micro-essentialism—is untenable even in a ‘placeholder’ version; and that the currently popular homeostatic property cluster theory of natural kinds is correct only to an extent (...)
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  • Mahdollisuus, välttämättömyys ja luodut ikuiset totuudet Descartesin filosofiassa.Forsman Jan - 2016 - In Ilkka Niiniluoto, Tuomas Tahko & Teemu Toppinen (eds.), Mahdollisuus. Helsinki: Philosophical Society of Finland. pp. 120-129.
    Tässä artikkelissa käsittelen Descartesin ikuisten totuuksien välttämättömyyteen liittyvää ongelmaa. Teoksessa Mietiskelyjä ensimmäisestä filosofiasta (1641–1642) Descartes nostaa esiin käsitteen ikuisista totuuksista, käyttäen esimerkkinään kolmiota. Kolmion muuttumattomaan ja ikuiseen luontoon kuuluu esimerkiksi, että sen kolme kulmaa ovat yhteenlaskettuna 180°. Se on totta kolmiosta, vaikka yhtään yksittäistä kolmiota ei olisi koskaan ollutkaan olemassa. Eräät ajattelemieni asioiden piirteet ovat siis Descartesin mukaan ajattelustani riippumattomia. Ikuisia totuuksia ovat ainakin matemaattiset ja geometriset tosiseikat sekä ristiriidan laki. Samoin Descartesin kuuluisa lause “ajattelen, siis olen” lukeutuu ikuisten totuuksien (...)
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  • Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or: Biochemical Realization.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):799-825.
    Biochemical kinds such as proteins pose interesting problems for philosophers of science, as they can be studied from the points of view of both biology and chemistry. The relationship between the biological functions of biochemical kinds and the microstructures that they are related to is the key question. This leads us to a more general discussion about ontological reductionism, microstructuralism, and multiple realization at the biology-chemistry interface. On the face of it, biochemical kinds seem to pose a challenge for ontological (...)
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  • Barcodes and historical essences: a critique of the moderate version of intrinsic biological essentialism.Julio Torres Meléndez - 2019 - Humanities Journal of Valparaiso 14:75-89.
    The current tendency to moderate expectations that DNA barcode can be a method of discovering new species is due to the essentialist interpretation of this scientific analogy that is conceptually unsustainable. Something similar has happened in the philosophical field with the weakening of the initial versions of intrinsic biological essentialism. To examine the nature of this transition, I propose two principles that define a moderate EBI: one that assumes that the history of the taxon is metaphysically dependent on the evolution (...)
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  • Mind-Dependent Kinds.Khalidi Muhammad Ali - 2016 - Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2):223-246.
    Many philosophers take mind-independence to be criterial for realism about kinds. This is problematic when it comes to psychological and social kinds, which are unavoidably mind-dependent. But reflection on the case of artificial or synthetic kinds shows that the criterion of mind-independence needs to be qualified in certain ways. However, I argue that none of the usual variants on the criterion of mind-dependence is capable of distinguishing real or natural kinds from non-real kinds. Although there is a way of modifying (...)
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  • Empiiriset elementit modaaliepistemologiassa.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2016 - In Ilkka Niiniluoto, Tuomas Tahko & Teemu Toppinen (eds.), Mahdollisuus. Helsinki: Philosophical Society of Finland. pp. 154-159.
    Title in English: "Empirical elements in modal epistemology". This article examines Peter van Inwagen's modal scepticism and argues that although van Inwagen is correct to criticise modal rationalism, there are tools in modal empiricism that are promising sources of modal knowledge.
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  • Fundamentality and Ontological Minimality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2018 - In Ricki Bliss & Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure. Oxford University Press. pp. 237-253.
    In this chapter, a generic definition of fundamentality as an ontological minimality thesis is sought and its applicability examined. Most discussions of fundamentality are focused on a mereological understanding of the hierarchical structure of reality, which may be combined with an atomistic, object-oriented metaphysics. But recent work in structuralism, for instance, calls for an alternative understanding and it is not immediately clear that the conception of fundamentality at work in structuralism is commensurable with the mereological conception. However, it is proposed (...)
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  • The Epistemology of Essence.Tuomas Tahko - 2018 - In Alexander Carruth, S. C. Gibb & John Heil (eds.), Ontology, Modality, Mind: Themes from the Metaphysics of E. J. Lowe. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 93-110.
    The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of essence, whereby essence (...)
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  • Natural Kinds, Causal Profile and Multiple Constitution.Max Kistler - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):113-135.
    The identity of a natural kind can be construed in terms of its causal profile. This conception is more appropriate to science than two alternatives. The identity of a natural kind is not determined by one causal role because one natural kind can have many causal roles and several functions and because some functions are shared by different kinds. Furthermore, the microstructuralist thesis is wrong: The identity of certain natural kinds is not determined by their microstructure. It is true that (...)
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  • The Modal Status of Laws: In Defence of a Hybrid View.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):509-528.
    Three popular views regarding the modal status of the laws of nature are discussed: Humean Supervenience, nomic necessitation, and scientific/dispositional essentialism. These views are examined especially with regard to their take on the apparent modal force of laws and their ability to explain that modal force. It will be suggested that none of the three views, at least in their strongest form, can be maintained if some laws are metaphysically necessary, but others are metaphysically contingent. Some reasons for thinking that (...)
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  • The Realism of Taxonomic Pluralism.Ka Ho Lam - 2020 - Metaphysics 3 (1):1-16.
    In this paper, I present a critique of taxonomic pluralism, namely the view that there are multiple correct ways to classify entities into natural kinds within a given scientific domain. I argue that taxonomic pluralism, as an anti-essentialist position, fails to provide a realist alternative to taxonomic monism, i.e., the view that there is only one correct way to classify entities into natural kinds within a given scientific domain. To establish my argument, I first explain why the naturalist approach to (...)
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  • Mineral Misbehavior: Why Mineralogists Don’T Deal in Natural Kinds.Carlos Santana - 2019 - Foundations of Chemistry 21 (3):333-343.
    Mineral species are, at first glance, an excellent candidate for an ideal set of natural kinds somewhere beyond the periodic table. Mineralogists have a detailed set of rules and formal procedure for ratifying new species, and minerals are a less messy subject matter than biological species, psychological disorders, or even chemicals more broadly—all areas of taxonomy where the status of species as natural kinds has been disputed. After explaining how philosophers have tended to get mineralogy wrong in discussions of natural (...)
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  • Empirically-Informed Modal Rationalism.Tuomas Tahko - 2017 - In Robert William Fischer & Felipe Leon (eds.), Modal Epistemology After Rationalism. Synthese Library. pp. 29-45.
    In this chapter, it is suggested that our epistemic access to metaphysical modality generally involves rationalist, a priori elements. However, these a priori elements are much more subtle than ‘traditional’ modal rationalism assumes. In fact, some might even question the ‘apriority’ of these elements, but I should stress that I consider a priori and a posteriori elements especially in our modal inquiry to be so deeply intertwined that it is not easy to tell them apart. Supposed metaphysically necessary identity statements (...)
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  • Natural Kinds.Emma Tobin & Alexander Bird - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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