Journal Article

Why Hacking is Wrong about Human Kinds

Rachel Cooper

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, issue 1, pages 73-85
Published in print March 2004 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/55.1.73
Why Hacking is Wrong about Human Kinds

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‘Human kind’ is a term introduced by Ian Hacking to refer to the kinds of people—child abusers, pregnant teenagers, the unemployed—studied by the human sciences. Hacking argues that classifying and describing human kinds results in feedback, which alters the very kinds under study. This feedback results in human kinds having histories totally unlike those of natural kinds (such as gold, electrons and tigers), leading Hacking to conclude that human kinds are radically unlike natural kinds. Here I argue that Hacking's argument fails and that he has not demonstrated that human kinds cannot be natural kinds.

Introduction

Natural kinds

Hacking's feedback mechanisms

3.1 Cultural feedback

3.2 Conceptual feedback

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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