Pregled bibliografske jedinice broj: 936212
Natural Kinds, 2018. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.30716.39043/1 (enciklopedijski pregledni članak).
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Ostale vrste radova, enciklopedijski pregledni članak
A large part of our exploration of the world consists in categorizing or classifying the objects and processes we encounter, both in scientific and everyday contexts. There are various, perhaps innumerable, ways to sort objects into different kinds or categories, but it is commonly assumed that, among the countless possible types of classifications, one group is privileged. Philosophy refers to such categories as natural kinds. Standard examples of such kinds include fundamental physical particles, chemical elements, and biological species. The term natural does not imply that natural kinds ought to categorize only naturally occurring stuff or objects. Candidates for natural kinds can include man- made substances, such as synthetic elements, that can be created in a laboratory. The naturalness in question is not the naturalness of the entities being classified, but that of the groupings themselves. Groupings that are artificial or arbitrary are not natural ; they are invented or imposed on nature. Natural kinds, on the other hand, are not invented, and many assume that scientific investigations should discover them. To say that a kind is natural, rather than artificial or arbitrary, means, minimally, that it reflects some relevant aspects of the world and not only the interests of, or facts about, the classifiers. The expression “footwear under $100, ” for instance, describes an artificial kind reflecting some categorizer’s interest— their budget—and not some relevant feature of the classified objects. Another feature of natural kinds is that they allow many important inferences about the entities grouped within them. Take gold: All entities classified as gold share a property— their atomic structure—that uniquely identifies a chemical element. This property also accounts for gold’s other observed properties, such as its color, malleability, and so forth. Identifying something as gold warrants many inferences and generalizations, such as that it dissolves in mercury at room temperature and is unaffected by most acids, that will apply to all samples of gold. More problematic, but still debated as possible instances of natural kinds, are categories in higher-level sciences: psychological categories, such as emotion ; psychiatric conditions, such as depression ; and social categories, such as money. We might not be able to identify anything like the atomic structure of a chemical element for depression. However, one might still wonder whether people suffering from it share properties that account for their behaviors and help us explain the condition’s causes and how it might be treated. Few people, perhaps, will consider most higher-level categories, such as psychiatric conditions, to be candidates for natural kinds. Nonetheless, what makes depression a legitimate scientific category, unlike hysteria, remains to be examined. This article describes the three most prominent accounts of natural kinds: essentialism, cluster kinds, and promiscuous realism. It spells out some of the features standardly associated with natural kinds and then examines the three views on natural kinds via specific examples of candidates for natural kinds in chemistry, biology and psychiatry. The final section discusses the metaphysics of natural kinds and offers a systematization of the possible views.