Against Teleological Essentialism

Cognitive Science 45 (4):e12961 (2021)
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In two recent papers, Rose and Nichols present evidence in favor of the view that humans represent category essences in terms of a telos, such as honey-making, and not in terms of scientific essences, such as bee DNA. In this paper, I challenge their interpretation of the evidence, and show that it is directly predicted by the main theory they seek to undermine. I argue that their results can be explained as instances of diagnostic reasoning about scientific essences.

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Eleonore Neufeld
University of Massachusetts, Amherst


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