Workshop Natural Kind Terms Bielefeld 2015

Abteilung Philosophie
Universität Bielefeld > Fakultät > Philosophie > Personen > Christian Nimtz > workshops

  Natural Kind terms

   Reference // Rigidity // Essence

   A Research Workshop
   Bielefeld University,
September 10-11, 2015

organized by Christian Nimtz (Bielefeld)
   and Jussi Haukioja   (Trondheim)

  • Corine Besson – University of Sussex web
  • Alexander Bird – University of Bristol web
  • Jussi Haukioja – University of Trondheim web
  • Frank Jackson – Australian National University, Canberra web
  • Joseph LaPorte – Hope College, Holland, Michigan web
  • Genoveva Martí – ICREA and University of Barcelona web
  • Christian Nimtz – Bielefeld University web
  • Tuomas Tahko – University of Helsinki web
  • Barbara Vetter –  Humboldt University, Berlin web

Registration   Registration is mandatory, and the the fee for participation is €10. We waive the fee for graduate and postdoctoral students. Be advised that space is fairly limited, so you will have to apply if you want to participate. Please apply by e-mail to:

Schedule and information   Here is a preliminary schedule for the event.

What the Workshop Will be About   Natural kind terms are a key topic in the philosophy of language. Philosophers of language as a rule embrace the Kripkean claims that the likes of ‘water’, ‘tiger’ or ‘gold’ designate rigidly, that their reference is on the whole independent of what we know about their referents, and that theoretical identifications involving them as a rule are necessary if true. But there is no meta-semantic consensus on how these semantic properties come about. There also is no agreement on what we learn from the fact that “Gold is 79AU” is necessary if true, or on how the natural kind expressions of the vernacular (think of ‘gold’) relate to their scientific counterparts (think of ‘79AU’).         

Natural kind terms also are a key topic in the philosophy of science and in metaphysics. Natural kind terms play a prominent role on our scientific theories of the world, or so many philosophers of science agree. But there is no consensus as to the significance of this fact. Nor is there much agreement about the metaphysical implications of either the semantic peculiarities of natural kind terms, or their role in the sciences. Do the former commit us to natural kind essentialism? And does the latter establish that our scientific taxonomies strive to cut nature at its joints?