A Peircean theory of real kinds
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
First Committee Member
Susan Haack, Committee Chair
A Peircean theory of real kinds was developed from Charles S. Peirce's writings to address two main philosophical issues concerning real kinds---the ontological status of real kinds, and the relation between induction and real kinds. This realist theory of real kinds was argued to provide a better ontological account of real kinds than both the Aristotelian kind essentialism and theories of real kinds informed by nominalism. This dissertation was divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 examined the history of the notion of real kinds for the purpose of motivating the Peircean approach to this notion. Chapter 2 analyzed the Peircean notion of real kinds, according to which a real kind is a real general that is operative in nature, and is capable of evolving over time and joining real laws together to govern its existent members so that they have certain general features. In Chapters 3 and 4, several scientific theories---including the contemporary account of biological species, the Big Bang model and the Standard Model, contemporary materials science, and Foucault's view of social institutions---were shown to support this theory of real kinds; and it was also argued that this theory allows kinds of microscopic physical particles, biological species, social kinds, etc., to be real. In Chapter 5, the relation between real kinds, and abduction and induction was illuminated by pointing out that the validity of induction is explained by its "self-corrective nature," and abduction presupposes that laws/kinds in nature are accessible to human cognition.
Cheng, Hsi-Heng, "A Peircean theory of real kinds" (2005). Dissertations from ProQuest. 2224.