Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2022
A standard requirement on natural kinds is that they be mind independent. However, many kinds in the human and social sciences, even the natural sciences, depend on human thought. This article suggests that the mind independence requirement on natural kinds be replaced with the requirement that natural kind classifications be defeasible. The defeasibility requirement does not require that natural kinds be mind independent, so it does not exclude mind dependent scientific kinds from being natural kinds. Furthermore, the defeasibility requirement captures the idea that natural kind classifications are tools for investigating the empirical world.
My thanks to Mohammad Ali Khalidi, David Ludwig, Christophe Malaterre, Jay Odenbaugh, Matthew Slater, Ken Waters, and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Audiences at the Philosophy Science Association, University of Toronto, University of Quebec at Montreal, and Concordia University provided helpful feedback. Financial support was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.