Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 4, pp 925–948 | Cite as

Natural kinds as categorical bottlenecks

Article

Abstract

Both realist and anti-realist accounts of natural kinds possess prima facie virtues: realists can straightforwardly make sense of the apparent objectivity of the natural kinds, and anti-realists, their knowability. This paper formulates a properly anti-realist account designed to capture both merits. In particular, it recommends understanding natural kinds as ‘categorical bottlenecks,’ those categories that not only best serve us, with our idiosyncratic aims and cognitive capacities, but also those of a wide range of alternative agents. By endorsing an ultimately subjective categorical principle, this view sidesteps epistemological difficulties facing realist views. Yet, it nevertheless identifies natural kinds that are fairly, though not completely, stance-independent or objective.

Keywords

Natural kinds Realism Anti-realism Homeostatic property clusters Classification Categorization 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNew York UniversityManhattanUSA

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