Carving Nature at Its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science

Overview

Contemporary discussions of the success of science often invoke an ancient metaphor from Plato's Phaedrus: successful theories should "carve nature at its joints." But is nature really "jointed"? Are there natural kinds of things around which our theories cut? The essays in this volume offer reflections by a distinguished group of philosophers on a series of intertwined issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of classification. The contributors consider such topics as the relevance of natural kinds in ...

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Carving Nature at Its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science

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Overview

Contemporary discussions of the success of science often invoke an ancient metaphor from Plato's Phaedrus: successful theories should "carve nature at its joints." But is nature really "jointed"? Are there natural kinds of things around which our theories cut? The essays in this volume offer reflections by a distinguished group of philosophers on a series of intertwined issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of classification. The contributors consider such topics as the relevance of natural kinds in inductive inference; the role of natural kinds in natural laws; the nature of fundamental properties; the naturalness of boundaries; the metaphysics and epistemology of biological kinds; and the relevance of biological kinds to certain questions in ethics. Carving Nature at Its Joints offers both breadth and thematic unity, providing a sampling of state-of-the-art work in contemporary analytic philosophy that will be of interest to a wide audience of scholars and students concerned with classification.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262015936
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2011
  • Series: Topics in Contemporary Philosophy
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Keim Campbell is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Washington State University. Michael O'Rourke is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Idaho. Matthew H. Slater is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Bucknell University. Campbell and O'Rourke are coeditors of the six previous volumes in the Topics in Contemporary Philosophy series published by the MIT Press, the most recent of which is Actions,Ethics, and Responsibility (2010).

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Table of Contents

Foreword John Dupré vii

Acknowledgments ix

1 introduction: Lessons from the Scientific Butchery Matthew H. Slater Andrea Borghini 1

2 Induction, Samples, and Kinds Peter Godfrey-Smith 33

3 It Takes More Than All Kinds to Make a World Marc Lange 53

4 Lange and Laws, Kinds, and Counterfactuals Alexander Bird 85

5 Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent? Noa Latham 97

6 Para-Natural Kinds Roy Sorensen 113

7 Boundaries, Conventions, and Realism Achille C. Varzi 129

8 Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms Michael Devitt 155

9 Three Ways of Resisting Essentialism about Natural Kinds Bence Nanay 175

10 Arthritis and Nature's Joints Neil E. Williams 199

11 Predicting Populations by Modeling Individuals Bruce Glymour 231

12 Similarity and Species Concepts Jason C. Rheins 253

13 Species Concepts and Natural Goodness Judith K. Crane Ronald Sandler 289

14 How to Think about the Free Will/Determinism Problem Kadri Vihvelin 313

Contributors 341

Index 343

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