Carving nature at the joints

Philosophy of Science 60 (1):100-113 (1993)
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This paper discusses a philosophical issue in taxonomy. At least one philosopher has suggested thc taxonomic principle that scientific kinds are disjoint. An opposing position is dcfcndcd here by marshalling examples of nondisjoint categories which belong to different, cocxisting classification schcmcs. This dcnial of thc disjoinmcss principle can bc recast as thc claim that scientific classification is "int<-:rcst—rclativc". But why would anyone have held that scientific categories arc disjoint in the first place'? It is argued that this assumption is nccdcd in one attempt t0 dcrivc csscntialism. This shows why the csscntialist and intc-:rcst—r<-zlativc approaches to classification arc in conflict.

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Muhammad Ali Khalidi
CUNY Graduate Center


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