Thomason on Natural Kinds
Kahane (Howard)
Source: Nous, 3, No. 4. (Nov., 1969), pp. 409-412
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    This paper argues that: (1) richmond thomason's criteria (nous, 3,95-101 peb 69) of natural kinds1 are not satisfactory as criteria of scientific classification, because his criteria forbid overlapping kinds, except where one kind is a species of another; yet many legitimate scientific kinds overlap in this forbidden way (e.G. Beryl silicates overlaps chromium silicates, and male primates overlaps homo sapiens). (2) His claim that his classification system is modular seems to be in error. (3) He seems confused in general concerning natural kinds2, essences, and necessity. In particular, his claim that if f is a natural kind3, then (x)(fx fx), i.E., "Predicates expressing natural kinds4 have the property that anything possessing them possesses them necessarily", seems confused. Perhaps thomason meant that if f is a property essential for membership in a kind k, then (x)((x k) fx), which, if essential properties are defining characteristics, is true but utterly trivial.

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