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date: 25 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Science posits entities that are neither individuals nor properties but kinds of individuals that share a number of distinct properties. Philosophers have designated them “natural kinds” and have held different views about how to distinguish them from arbitrary collections of individuals. The doctrine of “kinds” or “natural groups” was first explicitly introduced by nineteenth-century philosophers interested in taxonomy or scientific classification and continues to be the subject of lively debate in contemporary philosophy. After canvassing some of the philosophical controversies regarding natural kinds, the article presents two influential contemporary theories of natural kinds: essentialism and the homeostatic property cluster theory. The article goes on to defend naturalism, which is more in tune with the findings of modern science.

Keywords: natural kind, essentialism, property, taxonomy, scientific classification, naturalism

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