Kinds : natural, nominal, scientific Kind terms in science and commonsense.
In this thesis I argue that science and common sense do not recognise the same kinds in
nature, and hence the reference of kind terms in scientific and ordinary language differs.
Therefore, a satisfactory philosophical account of natural kinds and their names should
respect these differences.
I begin by describing the account of natural kinds and their names offered by Putnam
and Kripke, showing that their 'causal account' of reference predicts that kind terms in
science and in ordinary language should agree in their extension. I then review cases
from biology, chemistry, physics and the social sciences that suggest this is not the case -
that the kind terms in these sciences differ from seemingly comparable terms in ordinary
I go on to describe a notion of incommensurability devised by Thomas Kuhn, based on
translatability and translation failure. I then show that the differences between science
and common sense, employed to critique the causal view, show that science and
common sense are incommensurable in Kuhn's sense. I take this to show that no
satisfactory account of natural kinds can offer a single set of kinds and kind terms, and a
single story of their nature, for both science and common sense.
I then discuss accounts of kind concepts in developmental psychology, to see how these
explanations of the nature and development of lay-concepts relates to the
incommensurability thesis. I then deal with issues that may arise in light of the thesis; for
example, explaining how the layman, steeped in common sense, can learn scientific
theory. This leaves me in a position to clear the ground for a positive account of kinds
and kind terms - surveying, in the light of the foregoing discussions, what must be
included in, and excluded from, a satisfactory account,