Locke's theory of classification

Abstract

Locke is often cited as a precursor to contemporary natural kind realism. However, careful attention to Locke’s arguments show that he was unequivocally a conventionalist about natural kinds. To the extent that contemporary natural kind realists see themselves as following Locke, they misunderstand what he was trying to do. Locke argues that natural kinds require either dubious metaphysical commitments (e.g., to substantial forms or universals), or a question-begging version of essentialism. Contemporary natural kind realists face a similar dilemma, and should not appeal to Locke in their defense.

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2009-01-28

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Author's Profile

Judith Crane
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

References found in this work

Reference and Essence.Nathan U. Salmon - 1981 - Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Reference and Essence.Nathan U. Salmon - 1981 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 173 (3):363-364.

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Citations of this work

Locke Vs. Boyle: The Real Essence of Corpuscular Species.Jan-Erik Jones - 2007 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (4):659 – 684.
Locke and Botany.Peter R. Anstey & Stephen A. Harris - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (2):151-171.
Locke on Real Essences, Intelligibility, and Natural Kinds.Jan-Erik Jones - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Research 35:147-172.
Thomas Reid on Induction and Natural Kinds.Stephen Harrop - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (1):1-18.
Locke on Real Essences, Intelligibility, and Natural Kinds.Jan-Erik Jones - 2010 - Journal of Philosophical Research 35:147-172.

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