The resemblance structure of natural kindsa formal model for resemblance nominalism

Supervised by:
  1. Jon Pérez Laraudogoitia Director
  2. Thomas Arnold Mormann Director

Defence university: Universidad del País Vasco - Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea

Fecha de defensa: 12 January 2021

  1. Hannes Leitgeb Chair
  2. María Ponte Azcárate Secretary
  3. Igor Douven Committee member
  1. Filosofía

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 153984 DIALNET lock_openADDI editor


The aim of this thesis is to better understand the ways natural kinds are related to each other by species-genus relations and the ways in which the members of the kind are related to each other by resemblance relations, by making use of formal models of kinds. This is done by first analysing a Minimal Conception of Natural Kinds and then reconstructing it from the ontological assumptions of Resemblance Nominalism. The questions addressed are:(1) What is the external structure of kinds? In what ways are kinds related to each other by species-genus relations?(2) What is the internal structure of kinds? In what sense are the instances of a kind similar enough to each other?According to the Minimal Conception of Kinds, kinds have two components, a set of members of the kind (the extension) and a set of natural attributes common to these objects (the intension). Several interesting features of this conception are discussed by making use of the mathematical theory of concept lattices. First, such structures provide a model for contemporary formulations of syllogistic logic. Second, kinds are ordered forming a complete lattice that follows Kant¿s law of the duality between extension and intension, according to which the extension of a kind is inversely related to its intension. Finally, kinds are shown to have Aristotelian definitions in terms of genera and specific differences. Overall this results in a description of the specificity relations of kinds as an algebraic calculus.According to Resemblance Nominalism, attributes or properties are classes of similar objects. Such an approach faces Goodman¿s companionship and imperfect community problems. In order to deal with these, a specific nominalism, namely Aristocratic Resemblance Nominalism, is chosen. According to it, attributes are classes of objects resembling a given paradigm. A model for it is introduced by making use of the mathematical theory of similarity structures and of some results on the topic of quasianalysis. Two other models (the polar model and an order-theoretic model) are considered and shown to be equivalent to the previous one.The main result is that the class of lattices of kinds that a nominalist can recover uniquely by starting from these assumptions is that of complete coatomistic lattices. Several other related results are obtained, including a generalization of the similarity model that allows for paradigms with several properties and properties with several paradigms. The conclusion is that, under nominalist assumptions, the internal structure of kinds is fixed by paradigmatic objects and the external structure of kinds is that of a coatomistic lattice that satisfies the Minimal Conception of Kinds.