Repository logo

Scientific realism with historical essences: the case of species

Published version

Change log


Godman, Marion 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pNatural kinds, real kinds, or, following J.S. Mill simply, jats:italicKinds</jats:italic>, are thought to be an important asset for scientific realists in the non-fundamental (or “special”) sciences. Essential natures are less in vogue. I show that the realist would do well to couple her Kinds with essential natures in order to strengthen their epistemic and ontological credentials. I argue that these essential natures need not however be intrinsic to the Kind’s members; they may be historical. I concentrate on assessing the merits of historical essential natures in a paradigm case of Kinds in the non-fundamental sciences: species. I specify two basic jobs for essential natures: (1) offering individuation criteria, and (2) providing a causal explanation of the Kind’s multiple projectable properties. I argue that at least in the case of species historical essences are fit for both tasks. The principled resistance to Kinds with historical essences should also be cleared.</jats:p>



5003 Philosophy, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies, 5002 History and Philosophy Of Specific Fields

Journal Title


Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Springer Science and Business Media LLC