What makes something the kind of thing it is? And do certain objects have a special status in the scheme of things? According to Aristotle, some things (and particularly plants and animals) are what they are in virtue of their intrinsic properties: in more modern terms, they are members of 'natural kinds' and therefore have a special status. Furthermore, it is the job of the natural scientist to discover those intrinsic properties. In this bold and original book, Terence Wilkerson defends a modern version of Aristotle's view. He carefully analyses the notion of natural kind, and then uses it to attack a number of connected philosophical problems. He has important things to say about the natural sciences, the social sciences, the nature of scientific laws, the semantics of general names, ontology and metaphysics, and the philosophy of biology.
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account of natural anthropocentric anti-realist argue argument Aristotle behaviour beliefs biological kinds causal powers chapter chemistry and biology chimpanzee claim classification commitment concepts constituents counterfactual conditionals criteria of identity dependent kinds description and explanation determine membership distinction entities essences that determine example existence explanatory liberalism family resemblances genetic features haecceity human hybrid individual essences interest intrinsic properties kind is determined logically lower level medium-sized material objects members of natural metaphysical realism multiple realization natural kind names natural necessity necessary and sufficient necessary truths nominal essences non-natural kinds notion paediatricians philosophical physics plants and animals possible worlds predictions promiscuous realism propagule properties necessary property or set psychological Putnam real but superficial real essences reason relational properties S.J. Gould scientific set of properties shrub similar social sciences species stickleback Strict Implication structure sufficient for membership superficial properties talk taxonomy things thought tigers tree true Twin Earth