Games and Kinds

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O'Connor, Cailin
preprint description
In response to those who argue for `property cluster' views of natural kinds, I use evolutionary models of sim-max games to assess the claim that linguistic terms will appropriately track sets of objects that cluster in property spaces. As I show, there are two sorts of ways this can fail to happen. First, evolved terms that do respect property structure in some senses can be conventional nonetheless. Second, and more crucially, because the function of linguistic terms is to facilitate successful action in the world, when such success is based on something other than property clusters, we should not expect our terms to track those clusters. The models help make this second point salient by highlighting a dubious assumption underlying some versions of the cluster kinds view---that property clusters lead to successful generalization and induction in a straightforward way. As I point out, those who support property cluster kinds as natural can revert to a promiscuous realism in response to these observations.