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Same-Tracking Real Kinds in the Social Sciences

Bach, Theodore (2021) Same-Tracking Real Kinds in the Social Sciences. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The kinds of real or natural kinds that support explanation and prediction in the social sciences are difficult to identify and track because they change through time, intersect with one another, and they do not always exhibit their properties when one encounters them. As a result, conceptual practices directed at these kinds will often refer in ways that are partial, equivocal, or redundant. To improve this epistemic situation, it is important to employ open-ended classificatory concepts, to understand when different research programs are tracking the same real kind, and to maintain an ongoing commitment to interact causally with real kinds to focus reference on those kinds. A tempting view of these non-idealized epistemic conditions should be avoided: that they signal an ontological structure of the social world so plentiful that it would permit ameliorated (norm-driven, conceptually engineered) classificatory schemes to achieve their normative aims regardless of whether they defer (in ways to be described) to real-kind classificatory schemes. To ground these discussions, the essay appeals to an overlooked convergence in the systematic naturalistic frameworks of Richard Boyd and Ruth Millikan.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bach, Theodoretheodorebach@gmail.com
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Synthese
Keywords: Natural kinds; reference; conceptual engineering; ameliorative strategy; social ontology; gender; Boyd; Millikan
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Feminist Approaches
General Issues > Natural Kinds
General Issues > Science and Policy
Specific Sciences > Sociology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Theodore Bach
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2021 05:30
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2021 05:30
Item ID: 19955
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Feminist Approaches
General Issues > Natural Kinds
General Issues > Science and Policy
Specific Sciences > Sociology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: November 2021
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19955

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