calendar: what's on?
- STS 20 Reunion
- STS Seminar: Collecting Minerals in the early Nineteenth Century: The Royal Institution and Humphry Davy
- STS Seminar: Framing problems of anatomical representations in 18thC Florence and 19thC Britain
- STS Seminar: Are Chemical Substances Natural Kinds?
- STS Seminar: Sketches of Another Future: Cybernetics in Britain, 1940-2000
- STS Seminar: Early Years of the Biological Weapons Convention
- STS Seminar: Sarah Edwards
- STS Seminar: Julie Anderson
- STS Seminar: Donald MacKenzie
- STS Seminar: Jordan Goodman
- STS Seminar: Brendan Lavor
- PUS Seminar: Scidev.net and science journalism in South America
- PUS Seminar: 19thC public astronomy
- New book: Presocratics and the Supernatural
- Annual Grant Lecture
- Talk: Paul Robeson
- Life and Death Drawing: Expression
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STS Seminar: Are Chemical Substances Natural Kinds?
Publication date: Oct 2, 2013 4:09:23 PM
Nov 13, 2013 4:00:00 PM
End: Nov 13, 2013 6:00:00 PM
Location: South Wing, Garwood LT
Speaker: Dr Robin Hendry, Durham University
Are chemical substances natural kinds? On the one hand, chemical kinds like water and gold have been so central to the philosophical literature on natural kinds that they should be regarded as paradigms by which to judge general criteria for the 'naturalness' of other classificatory terms. This suggests that chemical substances cannot fail to be natural kinds. On the other hand, these very examples violate general criteria for being natural kinds that are widely accepted in the metaphysical literature, including (i) discreteness and (ii) independence from classificatory interests. Perhaps chemical substances aren't natural kinds after all.
In response to these tensions I argue that it is the general criteria that should be rejected, because (i) the arguments for applying them are a priori (i.e. independent of information drawn from any particular empirical science), and (ii) there are core cases of natural kinds that fail to satisfy them. I also argue that neither non-discreteness nor interest-dependence undermine important realist theses about natural kinds.
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