Natural Kinds and Human Artifacts
Putman (Daniel)
Source: Mind, 91, No. 363 (Jul., 1982), pp. 418-419
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

    Stephen Schwartz has argued that names for human social and material artifacts do not refer to natural kinds1. Utilizing the device of an alien anthropologist studying our species, the author argues that natural kind2 paradigms involving human artifacts would operate for such a scientist in the same way that such paradigms operate for scientists on earth studying nature. "Sloop" or "game," for example, would be analyzed by pegging similarity relations to paradigms and utilizing the latter to look for underlying properties. He concludes that either natural kinds3 are relative to the interests and perspective of the observer (categories under study being stages in the "conversation of mankind") or that there are more natural kinds4 than we suspect in which case earthly anthropology should join the natural sciences as a source of examples.

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