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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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Three Ways of Resisting Essentialism about Natural Kinds

Three Ways of Resisting Essentialism about Natural Kinds

(p.175) 9 Three Ways of Resisting Essentialism about Natural Kinds
Carving Nature at Its Joints

Bence Nanay

The MIT Press

This chapter begins by presenting the three main principles of essentialism. The first principle is that all and only members of a natural kind have some essential properties. The second is that these essential properties play a causal role. The third and final principle is that they are explanatorily relevant. Questions that arise regarding these principles are examined and it is argued here that arguing against the first and the second principles of kind-essentialism would involve taking part in some of the grand debates of philosophy. However, if the scope of discussion is restricted to the biological realm, the third principle can be questioned more successfully. Essentialism about natural kinds can have different meanings; for one, it can refer to being essentialist about individuals and kinds. There are also a variety of possible definitions for essentialism about kinds, the most general of which is utilized in this chapter.

Keywords:   essentialism, natural kind, essential properties, causal role, explanatorily relevant, kind-essentialism, biological realm

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