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Miles MacLeod
KLI Brown Bag
Making Natural Kinds Useful for Hacking Ideas on an Epistemic Criterion and What You Get with It
Miles MacLEOD (KLI)
2010-07-06 13:15 - 2010-07-06 13:15
KLI for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg, Austria
Organized by KLI

Topic description:
In this talk I want to respond to Hacking´s criticism of ´natural kinds´ as metaphysically loaded and fundamentally useless in the analysis of scientific practice by posing an epistemic conception of natural kind concepts that identifies them with aspects of use in research contexts rather than particular causal structure. I motivate the idea that ´naturalness´ in this respect can be translated in terms of the particular ways researchers are willing to develop and rely upon certain group concepts, in comparison with others that might be labeled ´artificial kinds.´ What follows from this is a natural kind concept that grants us some insight into various elements of scientific practice in the life sciences governing group concept formation and use, which is often fundamentally open-ended, that can tell us how such concepts operate epistemically in research contexts and the conditions under which they develop and change themselves. I don´t think we need to throw out natural kinds just yet.....!


Biographical note:
Miles MacLeod is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at the KLI, working on ´The Epistemic-Only View of Natural Kinds.´ He recently defended his PhD dissertation on the historical epistemic roles of theoretical entity concepts at the University of Vienna with the Initiativkolleg ´Naturwissenschaften im historischen Kontext.´