Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 4, pp 969–986 | Cite as

Scientific kinds

  • Marc Ereshefsky
  • Thomas A. C. Reydon


Richard Boyd’s Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC) Theory is becoming the received view of natural kinds in the philosophy of science. However, a problem with HPC Theory is that it neglects many kinds highlighted by scientific classifications while at the same time endorsing kinds rejected by science. In other words, there is a mismatch between HPC kinds and the kinds of science. An adequate account of natural kinds should accurately track the classifications of successful science. We offer an alternative account of natural kinds that better recognizes the diversity of epistemic aims scientists have for constructing classifications. That account introduces the idea of a classificatory program and provides criteria for judging whether a classificatory program identifies natural kinds.


Natural kinds Classification Homeostatic property clusters Richard Boyd Scientific kinds Classificatory programs 



We thank Travis Dumsday, Miles MacLeod, P. D. Magnus, Matthew Slater, and Elliott Sober for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. Marc thanks the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Institute of Philosophy, Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW) and Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (CELLS)Leibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany

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