ISBN: 9780262298780 | 368 pp. | October 2011

Carving Nature at Its Joints

Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science

Contemporary discussions of the success of science often invoke an ancient metaphor from Plato's Phaedrus: successful theories should "carve nature at its joints." But is nature really "jointed"? Are there natural kinds of things around which our theories cut? The essays in this volume offer reflections by a distinguished group of philosophers on a series of intertwined issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of classification.

The contributors consider such topics as the relevance of natural kinds in inductive inference; the role of natural kinds in natural laws; the nature of fundamental properties; the naturalness of boundaries; the metaphysics and epistemology of biological kinds; and the relevance of biological kinds to certain questions in ethics. Carving Nature at Its Joints offers both breadth and thematic unity, providing a sampling of state-of-the-art work in contemporary analytic philosophy that will be of interest to a wide audience of scholars and students concerned with classification.

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. 1. Introduction: Lessons from the Scientifi c Butchery

    Matthew H. Slater and Andrea Borghini

  4. 2. Induction, Samples, and Kinds

    Peter Godfrey-Smith

  5. 3. It Takes More Than All Kinds to Make a World

    Alexander Bird

  6. 4. Lange and Laws, Kinds, and Counterfactuals

    Alexander Bird

  7. 5. Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent?

    Noa Latham

  8. 6. Para-Natural Kinds

    Roy Sorensen

  9. 7. Boundaries, Conventions, and Realism

    Achille C. Varzi

  10. 8. Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms

    Michael Devitt

  11. 9. Three Ways of Resisting Essentialism about Natural Kinds

    Bence Nanay

  12. 10. Arthritis and Nature's Joints

    Neil E. Williams

  13. 11. Predicting Populations by Modeling Individuals

    Bruce Glymour

  14. 12. Similarity and Species Concepts

    Jason G. Rheins

  15. 13. Species Concepts and Natural Goodness

    Judith K. Crane and Ronald Sandler

  16. 14. How to Think about the Free Will/Determinism Problem

    Kadri Vihvelin

  17. Contributors
  18. Index