chapter  10
Genuine kinds and scientific reality QUAYSHAWN SPENCER
Pages 16

One question that has intrigued philosophers of science since at least John Stuart Mill is, “What are ‘real kinds’ for the natural sciences?” (Mill 1843, 169).1

For instance, Mill (1843, 169) questioned whether “Caucasian, Mongolian, and Negro” are “really different Kinds of human beings” in natural history, or rather, are on the order of “Christian, or Mathematician” to the naturalist.2 Suppose we are using “natural kind” to designate the real kinds for the natural sciences as philosophers of science often do. While philosophers of science do not agree on the nature of natural kinds, there is widespread agreement among philosophers of science about which kinds are natural kinds and which kinds are not. For instance, while Stathis Psillos (2002, xix) claims that natural kinds are “mind-independent” and Richard Boyd (1999, 175) claims that natural kinds are “social artifacts,” they both agree that the chemical elements are natural kinds (Boyd 1999, 147; Psillos 2002, 288).3 But I’ll be more specific.