This workshop at my alma mater, Durham, put together by Markku Keinänen and David Westland, was the first official Dynamis event, in cooperation with the Department of Philosophy at Durham. This was enabled by the fact that Markku Keinänen has been visiting Durham this spring. We had an intensive day of debating the metaphysics of natural kinds with some great discussion, although it would’ve been nice to have some more audience. Sadly, Emma Tobin, who was due to give a talk as well, had to cancel — we had a round table discussion instead.
E.J. Lowe was under some heavy fire at times with Jani and Markku defending their trope nominalist account of natural kinds and myself developing a criticism about the relationship of laws and kinds due to Alexander Bird. But he can certainly take it, and of course had plenty of his own criticisms! Jani opened with a partly historical talk on Hume and the Humean attitude towards kindhood. Robin Hendry then gave an intriguing talk about chemical kinds and continuity, suggesting that there are reasons to think that at least some chemical kinds lack bona fide boundaries (a topic which I’ve touched on in my own work).
My own talk was entitled ‘What Is Realism About Natural Kinds?’, in which I tried to get clear on some of the issues that I’ve encountered especially when discussing natural kinds with philosophers of science. To this end, Robin Hendry’s work is also of special interest. Jani and Markku also had a joint paper on trope nominalism and natural kinds, a view which they’ve developed in a number of papers. David Westland gave us a thorough summary of Brian Ellis’s views on natural kinds, whereas Lowe went into some more detail about the role of kinds in his four-category ontology.
All in all, it was a great pleasure to be back in Durham and to see some familiar faces. Things in Durham are really picking up with several recent hires and great funding success, most recently a Templeton funded project on emergence (check out the post-doc and PhD opportunities!) lead by Robin Hendry. I hope to be back again soon!
See the rest of the photos in my gallery.