Smaller than a Breadbox: Scale and Natural Kinds

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23 Scopus citations

Abstract

I propose a division of the literature on natural kinds into metaphysical worries, semantic worries, and methodological worries. I argue that the latter set of worries, which concern how classification influences scientific practices, should occupy centre stage in philosophy of science discussions about natural kinds. I apply this methodological framework to the problems of classifying chemical species and nanomaterials. I show that classification in nanoscience differs from classification in chemistry because the latter relies heavily on compositional identity, whereas the former must consider additional properties, namely, size, shape, and surface chemistry. I use this difference to argue for a scale-dependent theory of scientific classification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Volume69
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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