Natural Kindness

Matthew H. Slater, Bucknell University

Abstract

Philosophers have long been interested in a series of interrelated questions about natural kinds. What are they? What role do they play in science and metaphysics? How do they contribute to our epistemic projects? What categories count as natural kinds? And so on. Owing, perhaps, to different starting points and emphases, we now have at hand a variety of conceptions of natural kinds-some apparently better suited than others to accommodate a particular sort of inquiry. Even if coherent, this situation isn't ideal. My goal in this article is to begin to articulate a more general account of 'natural kind phenomena'. While I do not claim that this account should satisfy everyone-it is built around a certain conception of the epistemic role of kinds and has an obvious pragmatic flavour-I believe that it has the resources to go further than extant alternatives, in particular the homeostatic property cluster view of kinds.