a recent screed by the famous philosopher of science Ian Hacking called "Natural Kinds: Rosy Dawn, Scholastic Twilight". As the title suggests, Hacking thinks that philosophical research on natural kinds has entered a period of scholastic navel-gazing. I have two (conflicting) reactions to this. (1) No it's not! (2) He's wrong to think that it ever wasn't (in at least some sense) — it's just that our navels were previously out of focus. Right now, I'm more inclined to the second interpretation, no doubt partly because I'm busy writing two books on natural kinds! Fortunately, Hacking's arguments are pretty uncompelling.
Anyway, Hacking wasn't at the conference to defend his honor. And that's fine. The folks there were for the most part committed to the idea that there's something non-incestuous (or not problematically incestuous) about the idea of natural kinds in the biological sciences. I decided to talk about cell types — extending some of the sketchy thoughts offered at ISHPSSB a few weeks back. Finally, I have a decent draft of a paper on this subject:
"Cell Types as Natural Kinds"
It feels like just a start. But that's okay. I'm already way over the word-limit. And I'll definitely be coming back to these issues when I'm able to get back to writing my book on Biological Kinds. In the meanwhile, I'm all about species! Got a June deadline to worry about. . . .
More photos here.