Friday, 6 November 2009
'Carving Nature at Its Joints'. Natural Kinds, Kantian Kinds, and the Problem of Induction
Michela Massimi, Visiting Faculty, University of Pittsburgh, Department of HPS and
University College London, Department of Science and Technology Studies
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: In this paper, I examine the philosophical motivation for introducting a theory of natural kinds in order to explain the success of our epistemic practices. I consider Richard Boyd's influential realist position on natural kinds, and his attack against what he calls 'sophisticated neo-Kantian constructivism'. I put forward a view that is meant to respond to Boyd's challenge by showing that a Kantian account of kinds can both vindicate some realist intuitions and at the same time make room for the interest-relative nature of our classificatory practices. I finally claim that this revised form of 'Kantian kinds' (intended in a liberal sense) can do justice to some important intuitions about the problem of induction.