Kind terms and semantic uniformity

Philosophia 50 (1):7-17 (2022)
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Abstract

Since Saul Kripke’s and Hilary Putnam’s groundbreaking work in the Seventies, the idea has emerged that natural kind terms are semantically special among common nouns. Stephen P. Schwartz, for example, has argued that an artifactual kind term like “pencil” functions very differently from a natural kind term like “tiger.” This, however, blatantly violates a principle that I call Semantic Uniformity. In this paper, I defend the principle. In particular, I outline a picture of how natural kind terms function based on Kripke’s and Putnam’s considerations, and I use it to rebut Schwartz’s arguments, showing that if it works for natural kind terms, it can work for artifactual kind terms too, or at least that Schwartz did not provide good enough reasons to the contrary.

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Andrea Bianchi
University of Parma

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