Reactive Natural Kinds and Varieties of Dependence

European Journal for Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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This paper asks when a natural disease kind is truly 'reactive' and when it is merely associated with a corresponding social kind. I begin with a permissive account of real kinds and their structure, distinguishing natural kinds, indifferent kinds and reactive kinds as varieties of real kind characterised by super-explanatory properties. I then situate disease kinds within this framework, arguing that many disease kinds prima facie are both natural and reactive. I proceed to distinguish ‘simple dependence’, ‘secondary dependence’ and ‘essential dependence’ between a natural kind and its classification, and argue that a natural kind is only really reactive, in an important sense, under conditions of essential dependence. On this basis, I offer a principled hypothesis for why psychiatric kinds tend to be more metaphysically unstable than paradigm somatic disease kinds.

Author's Profile

Harriet Fagerberg
Hunter College (CUNY)


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