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Carving Nature at Its JointsNatural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science$
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Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, and Matthew H. Slater

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015936

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015936.001.0001

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Arthritis and Nature’s Joints

Arthritis and Nature’s Joints

(p.199) 10 Arthritis and Nature’s Joints
Carving Nature at Its Joints

Neil E. Williams

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the view that diseases comprise natural kinds and how this view is in conflict with the essentialist picture of natural kinds as championed by Kripke and Putnam. This essentialist depiction of natural kinds contends that in order for a class of entities to be a natural kind, it is required that all and only members of the class instantiate very specific properties that explain the presence of any other properties typically associated with being a member of the kind; these privileged properties constitute the “essence” of the kind. The problem is that the essentialist picture provides only two options, none of which is desirable: satisfy the essentialist desiderata by locating some etiological feature both necessary and sufficient for kind membership, or reject the thought that similarity between disease instances can be understood in terms of natural kinds.

Keywords:   diseases, natural kinds, essentialist, Kripke, Putnam, essentialist desiderata, kind membership, disease instances

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