Laura Franklin-Hall argues for a nuanced anti-realism about natural kinds. In the course of her argument, she considers the accounts offered by Richard Boyd and me to be alternative anti-realist views. But Boyd and I are both avowed realists about natural kinds. There is an important presupposition hidden in the way that Franklin-Hall poses the problem, namely that a real natural kind must be natural simpliciter.
Although some authors hold that natural kinds are necessarily relative to disciplinary domains, many authors presume that natural kinds must be absolute, categorical features of the reality — often assuming that without even mentioning the alternative. Recognizing both possibilities, one may ask whether the difference especially matters. I argue that it does. Looking at recent arguments about natural kind realism, I argue that we can best make sense of the realism question by thinking of natural kindness as a relation that holds between a category and a domain.
The first on-line draft of this paper was posted 8aug2014.