Are Stellar Kinds Natural Kinds? A Challenging Newcomer in the Monism/Pluralism and Realism/Antirealism Debates

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Ruphy, Stéphanie
conference paper description
Stars are conspicuously absent from reflections on natural kinds and classifications, with gold, tiger, jade, and water getting all the philosophical attention. This is too bad for, as this paper will demonstrate, interesting philosophical lessons can be drawn from stellar taxonomy as regards two central, on-going debates about natural kinds, to wit, the monism/pluralism debate and the realism/antirealism debate. I show in particular that stellar kinds will not please the essentialist monist, nor for that matter will it please the pluralist embracing promiscuous realism à la Dupré. I conclude on a more general note by questioning the relationship between taxonomic scientific practice and philosophical doctrines of natural kinds.