Department of Political Science

The Epistemology and Morality of Human Kinds

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Natural kinds is a widely used and pivotal concept in philosophy – the idea being that the classifications and taxonomies employed by science correspond to the real kinds in nature. Natural kinds are often opposed to the idea of kinds in the human and social sciences, which are typically seen as social constructions, characterised by changing norms and resisting scientific reduction. Yet human beings are also a subject of scientific study.Does this mean humans fall into corresponding kinds of their own?

In The Epistemology and Morality of Human Kinds Marion Godman defends the idea of human kinds. She first examines the scientific use and nature of human kinds, considering the arguments of key philosophers whose work bears upon human kinds, such as Ian Hacking, John Searle, Richard Boyd and Ruth Millikan. Using the examples of gender, ethnic minorities and Buddhism she then argues that human kinds are a result of ongoing historical reproduction, chiefly due to pre-existing cultural models and social learning. Her novel argument shifts the focus away from the reductionism characteristic of research about human kinds. Instead, she argues that they are “multiply projectable” and deserving of scientific study not in spite of, but because of their role in explaining our identity, injusticea nd the emergence of group rights.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationAbingdon
Number of pages124
ISBN (Print)9781138724303
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
SeriesFocus on Philosophy

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