Capricious Kinds

Capricious Kinds Abstract According to Ian Hacking, some human kinds are subject to a peculiar type of classificatory instability: individuals change in reaction to being classified, which in turn leads to a revision of our understanding of the kind. Hacking’s claim that these ‘human interactive kinds’ cannot be natural kinds has been vehemently criticized on the grounds that similar patterns of instability occur in paradigmatic examples of natural kinds. I argue that the dialectic of the extant debate misses the core conceptual problem of human interactive kinds. The problem is not that these kinds are particularly unstable but ‘capricious’—their members behave in wayward, unexpected manners that defeats existing theoretical understanding. The reason for that, I argue, is that human interactive kinds are often ‘hybrid kinds’ consisting of a base kind and an associated status, which makes mechanisms that support patterns of change and stability systematically difficult to understand and predict. © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Oxford University Press

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
0007-0882
eISSN
1464-3537
D.O.I.
10.1093/bjps/axy024
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract According to Ian Hacking, some human kinds are subject to a peculiar type of classificatory instability: individuals change in reaction to being classified, which in turn leads to a revision of our understanding of the kind. Hacking’s claim that these ‘human interactive kinds’ cannot be natural kinds has been vehemently criticized on the grounds that similar patterns of instability occur in paradigmatic examples of natural kinds. I argue that the dialectic of the extant debate misses the core conceptual problem of human interactive kinds. The problem is not that these kinds are particularly unstable but ‘capricious’—their members behave in wayward, unexpected manners that defeats existing theoretical understanding. The reason for that, I argue, is that human interactive kinds are often ‘hybrid kinds’ consisting of a base kind and an associated status, which makes mechanisms that support patterns of change and stability systematically difficult to understand and predict. © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

The British Journal for the Philosophy of ScienceOxford University Press

Published: Mar 14, 2018

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