The looping effects of human kinds

Ian Hacking

in Causal Cognition

Published in print July 1996 | ISBN: 9780198524021
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191689093 | DOI:

Series: Symposia of the Fyssen Foundation

The looping effects of human kinds

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This chapter argues that today's understanding of causal processes in human affairs relies crucially on concepts of ‘human kinds’ which are a product of the modern social sciences, with their concern for classification, quantification, and intervention. Child abuse, homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, and multiple personality are examples of such recently established human kinds. What distinguishes human kinds from ‘natural kinds’, is that they have specific ‘looping effects’. By coming into existence through social scientists' classifications, human kinds change the people thus classified.

Keywords: causal processes; human kinds; child abuse; homosexuality; teenage pregnancy; multiple personality

Chapter.  20910 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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