Synergic kinds

Synthese 197 (5):1931-1946 (2020)
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Abstract

According to the homeostatic property cluster family of accounts, one of the main conditions for groups of properties to count as natural is that these properties be frequently co-instantiated. I argue that this condition is, in fact, not necessary for natural-kindness. Furthermore, even when it is present, the focus on co-occurrence distorts the role natural kinds play in science. Co-occurrence corresponds to what information theorists call redundancy: observing the presence of some of the properties in a frequently co-occurrent cluster makes observations of other members of the cluster comparatively uninformative. Yet, scientific practice often, and increasingly often, singles out as natural groups of properties that are not redundant, but synergic: instantiations of properties in synergic clusters are not necessarily informative about instantiations of other properties in the cluster; rather, it is their joint instantiation that plays the explanatory role for which the natural kind is recruited.

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Manolo Martínez
Universitat de Barcelona

Citations of this work

The nature of perceptual constancies.Peter Schulte - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):3-20.

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References found in this work

Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.
Naming and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.

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