UPDATED: Jesse Prinz: The Scientific Construction of Kinds

Our next speaker will be Jesse Prinz. The lecture will be held on Tuesday 4:15-6:15pm, April 25th, at CUNY Grad Center (Room 5307). Hope to see you there.

Place: CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5307. Street address: 365 Fifth Ave, NYC.
Time: 4:15 – 6:15 PM Tuesday April 25.

Speaker: Jesse Prinz (CUNY)

Title: The Scientific Construction of Kinds

Abstract: In philosophy of mind and semantic theory, strong forms of realism continue to be popular.  Our concepts are presumed to pick our kinds whose joints are given by nature.   This picture is said to take science seriously, and philosophers with a naturalist bent have been especially drawn to it.  Within scientific practice, however, taxonomies often reflect a degree of fiat, with pragmatic and aesthetic factors determining the contours of kinds.  This is most obviously true is social sciences, but equally prevalent in natural sciences, such as chemistry and biology.  Those who have reflected on such practices sometimes lobby for sophisticated forms of realism (e.g., promiscuous realism or homeostatic property closers) in place of the sparser and sharper ontologies presupposed in other domains of philosophy.  Here is is argued that commitments to realism about kinds is weaker in scientific practice than we have been led to believe, even on these less stringent accounts.  Naturalists who defer to science on matters of ontology should be open to the possibility that kinds are, in some sense, constructed, rather than discovered.

There will be a dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with “Dinner” in the heading to nyphilsci@gmail.com (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email eddy.chen@rutgers.edu

Upcoming MAPS Talk: 
Alyssa Ney (UC Davis).
“Wave Function Realism in a Relativistic Setting”
4:30-6:30 PM Tuesday May 2 at Columbia.

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