Books  General Natural History  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion 

Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change

By: J Laporte

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Feb 2004 | #159964 | ISBN: 0521825997
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $84/€79 approx

About this book

According to the received tradition, the language used to refer to natural kinds in scientific discourse remains stable even as theories about these kinds are refined. Hence, scientists discover, rather than stipulate, that sentences like 'Whales are mammals, not fish' are true. In this illuminating book, Joseph LaPorte argues that scientists do not discover that sentences about natural kinds, like 'Whales are mammals, not fish', are true rather than false. Instead, scientists find that these sentences were vague in the language of earlier speakers, and they refine the meanings of the relevant natural-kind terms to make the sentences true. Hence, scientists change the meanings of these terms. This conclusion prompts LaPorte to examine the consequences of this change in meaning for the issue of incommensurability and for the progress of science.

'LaPorte's book constitutes an exciting and intriguing starting-point for reconsidering reference theory and the nature of natural kinds.' The Philosophical Quarterly


Contents

Introduction; 1. What is a natural kind, and do biological taxa qualify?; 2. Natural kinds, rigidity, and essence; 3. Biological kind term reference and the discovery of essence; 4. Chemical kind term reference and the discovery of essence; 5. Linguistic change and incommensurability; 6. Meaning change, theory change and analyticity.

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