Natural Kinds, Mind-independence, and Unification Principles

Synthese 200 (2):1-23 (2022)
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There have been many attempts to determine what makes a natural kind real, chief among them is the criterion according to which natural kinds must be mind-independent. But it is difficult to specify this criterion: many supposed natural kinds have an element of mind-dependence. I will argue that the mind-independence criterion is nevertheless a good one, if correctly understood: the mind-independence criterion concerns the unification principles for natural kinds. Unification principles determine how natural kinds unify their properties, and only those natural kinds that have a mind-independent unification principle should be considered real.

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Tuomas E. Tahko
University of Bristol


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