Three ways of resisting essentialism about natural kinds

In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving nature at its joints: natural kinds in metaphysics and science. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. pp. 175--97 (2011)
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Essentialism about natural kinds has three tenets. The first tenet is that all and only members of a natural kind has some essential properties. The second tenet is that these essential properties play a causal role. The third tenet is that they are explanatorily relevant. I examine the prospects of questioning these tenets and point out that arguing against the first and the second tenets of kind-essentialism would involve taking parts in some of the grand debates of philosophy. But, at least if we restrict the scope of the discussion to the biological domain, the third tenet of kind-essentialism could be questioned more successfully.

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Bence Nanay
University of Antwerp


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