Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change

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According to the received tradition, the language used to to refer to natural kinds in scientific discourse remains stable even as theories about these kinds are refined. In this illuminating book, Joseph LaPorte argues that scientists do not discover that sentences about natural kinds, like 'Whales are mammals, not fish', are true rather than false. Instead, scientists find that these sentences were vague in the language of earlier speakers and they refine the meanings of the relevant natural-kind terms to make the sentences true. Hence, scientists change the meaning of these terms, This conclusions prompts LaPorte to examine the consequences of this change in meaning for the issue of incommensurability and for the progress of science. This book will appeal to students and professional in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of language. – Contents : Preface; Introduction; – 1. What is a natural kind and do biological taxa qualify?; – 2. Natural kinds, rigidity and essence; – 3. Biological kind term reference and the discovery of essence; – 4. Chemical kind term reference and the discovery of essence; – 5. Linguistic change and incommensurability; – 6. Meaning change, theory change and analyticity. – Notes; Includes bibliographical references (p. 201-214) and index.