Biological Kinds and the Causal Theory of Reference

Brigandt, Ingo (2004) Biological Kinds and the Causal Theory of Reference. [Conference Paper]

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This paper uses an example from biology, the homology concept, to argue that current versions of the causal theory of reference give an incomplete account of reference determination. It is suggested that in addition to samples and stereotypical properties, the scientific use of concepts and the epistemic interests pursued with concepts are important factors in determining the reference of natural kind terms.

Item Type:Conference Paper
Keywords:reference, causal theory of reference, natural kinds, concepts, homology
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
Philosophy > Philosophy of Science
ID Code:3935
Deposited By: Brigandt, Ingo
Deposited On:13 Nov 2004
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

References in Article

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Ax, Peter 1989 “Homologie in der Biologie – ein Relationsbegriff im Vergleich von Arten”, Zoologische Beiträge N.F. 32, 487-496.

Brigandt, Ingo 2003 “Homology in Comparative, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: The Radiation of a Concept”, Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution) 299B, 9-17.

Brigandt, Ingo n.d. “The Role a Concept Plays in Science: The Case of Homology”, manuscript,

Devitt, Michael and Sterelny, Kim 1999 Language and Reality, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Putnam, Hilary 1975 “The meaning of ‘meaning’”, in: Hilary Putnam, Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers, Volume 2, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 215-271.

Roth, V. Louise 1991 “Homology and Hierarchies: Problems Solved and Unsolved”, Journal of Evolutionary Biology 4, 167-194.

Stanford, P. Kyle and Kitcher, Philip 2000 “Refining the Causal Theory of Reference for Natural Kind Terms”, Philosophical Studies 97, 99-129.

Wagner, Günter P. 1989 “The Biological Homology Concept”, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 20, 51-69.


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