Interactive kinds

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):335-360 (2010)
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Abstract

This paper examines the phenomenon of ‘interactive kinds’ first identified by Ian Hacking. An interactive kind is one that is created or significantly modified once a concept of it has been formulated and acted upon in certain ways. Interactive kinds may also ‘loop back’ to influence our concepts and classifications. According to Hacking, interactive kinds are found exclusively in the human domain. After providing a general account of interactive kinds and outlining their philosophical significance, I argue that they are not confined to the human realm, but that they can also occur elsewhere. Hence, I conclude by arguing that interactive kinds pose a challenge to scientific realism about kinds by making it difficult to make a distinction between real and non-real kinds.

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Muhammad Ali Khalidi
CUNY Graduate Center

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