P.D. Magnus (research)

Scurvy and the ontology of natural kinds

Considering the ontology which best fits a conception according to which natural kinds are the categories fit for enquiry, with scurvy and vitamin C as central examples. It was presented at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting in Pittsburgh (November 2022) and published in Philosophy of Science (2023).

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Some philosophers understand natural kinds to be the categories which are constraints on enquiry. In order to elaborate the metaphysics appropriate to such an account, I consider the complicated history of scurvy, citrus, and vitamin C. It may be tempting to understand these categories in a shallow way (as mere property clusters) or in a deep way (as fundamental properties). Neither approach is adequate, and the case instead calls for middle-range ontology: starting from categories which we identify in the world and elaborating their structure, but not pretending to jump ahead to a complete story about fundamental being.


	AUTHOR = {P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {Scurvy and the ontology of natural kinds},
	JOURNAL = {Philosophy of Science},
	YEAR = {2023},
	MONTH = dec,
	VOLUME = {90},
	NUMBER = {5},
	DOI = {10.1017/psa.2023.19},
	PAGES = {1031--1039}

The first on-line draft of this paper was posted 17dec2021.