Brown Bag Lectures are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. The Brown Bag Lecture series was discontinued in 2014 with the KLI moving to its new premises in Klosterneuburg. In 2014 the KLI Colloquia were established as the new lecture series.
In this talk I want to respond to Hacking´s criticism of ´natural kinds´ as metaphysically loaded and fundamentally useless in the analysis of scientific practice by posing an epistemic conception of natural kind concepts that identifies them with aspects of use in research contexts rather than particular causal structure. I motivate the idea that ´naturalness´ in this respect can be translated in terms of the particular ways researchers are willing to develop and rely upon certain group concepts, in comparison with others that might be labeled ´artificial kinds.´ What follows from this is a natural kind concept that grants us some insight into various elements of scientific practice in the life sciences governing group concept formation and use, which is often fundamentally open-ended, that can tell us how such concepts operate epistemically in research contexts and the conditions under which they develop and change themselves. I don´t think we need to throw out natural kinds just yet.....!
Miles MacLeod is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at the KLI, working on ´The Epistemic-Only View of Natural Kinds.´ He recently defended his PhD dissertation on the historical epistemic roles of theoretical entity concepts at the University of Vienna with the Initiativkolleg ´Naturwissenschaften im historischen Kontext.´