Kant and Natural Kind Terms

Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (1):55-72 (2016)
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Abstract

As is well known, the linguistic/philosophical reflection on natural kind terms has undergone a remarkable development in the early seventies with Putnam and Kripke’s essentialist approaches, touching upon different aspects of Kan’s slant. Preliminarily, however, it might be useful to review some of the theoretical stages in Locke and Leibniz’s approaches on natural kind terms in the light of contemporary reflections, to eventually pinpoint Kant’s contribution and see how some commentators have placed it within the theory of direct reference. Starting with textual evidence even from the logical corpus, in the present essay I will attempt to discuss some of the arguments dismissing Kant’s adherence to this view. These assume that in his approach to the semantics of natural kind Kant appears to be still holding on to a nominalist/conceptualist position, though he seems to be well aware of a few key issues for the theorists of direct reference.

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