Lemeire, O. No purely epistemic theory can account for the naturalness of kinds. Forthcoming in Synthese. (Full text here)
Several philosophers have recently tried to define natural kinds in epistemic terms only. Given the persistent problems with finding a successful metaphysical theory, these philosophers argue that we would do better to describe natural kinds solely in terms of their epistemic usefulness, such as their role in supporting inductive inferences. In this paper, I argue against these epistemology-only theories of natural kinds and in favor of, at least partly, metaphysical theories. I do so in three steps. In the first section of the paper, I propose two desiderata for a theory of natural kinds. In the second section, I discuss one example of a ‘general’ epistemology-only theory, proposed by Marc Ereshefsky and Thomas Reydon, and argue that theories like theirs fail to provide adequate criteria of natural kinds. In the third section, I focus on one example of a ‘specific’ epistemology-only theory, proposed by P.D. Magnus, and use it to show why such theories cannot justify the claim that the proposed epistemic criteria account for the naturalness of kinds.
De Block, A. & Lemeire, O. (2017), Is de filosofie te links? Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte, 109(1), 105-122. (Full text here)
This is a Dutch article on ideological diversity in philosophy. We discuss a number of possible causes for the (alleged) underrepresentation of right-wing and conservative philosophers in the academic profession. We then argue that such an underrepresentation should be an important concern, based on epistemic reasons. Given what we know about ideological bias in reasoning and the success conditions of reasoning in group, a strong underrepresentation of right-wing philosophers (or left-wing philosophers for that matter) is epistemically problematic. Finally, we explore what kind of ideological diversity would be desirable for academic philosophy.
Lemeire, O. (2016), Beyond the realism debate: The metaphysics of ‘racial’ distinctions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 59, 47-56. (Full text here)
The current metaphysical race debate is very much focused on the realism question whether races exist. In this paper I argue against the importance of this question. Philosophers, biologists and anthropologists expect that answering this question will tell them something substantive about the metaphysics of racial classifications, and will help them to decide whether it is justified to use racial categories in scientific research and public policy. I argue that there are two reasons why these expectations are not fulfilled. First of all, the realism question about race leads to a very broad philosophical debate about the semantics of general terms and the criteria for real kinds, rather than to a debate about the metaphysics of racial categories specifically. Secondly, there is a type of race realism that is so toothless that it is almost completely uninformative about the metaphysics of race. In response to these worries, I argue that the metaphysical race debate should rather be focused on the question in what way and to what extent ‘racial’ distinctions can ground the epistemic practices of various scientific disciplines.
Lemeire, O. & De Block, A. (2015), Philosophy and the biology of male homosexuality. Philosophy Compass, 10(7), 479-488. (Full text here)
In this paper, we review how biological and other scientific theories or findings can be used to answer philosophical questions about the nature of male homosexuality. We argue that although these sciences are certainly relevant for present philosophical debates, few of the philosophical issues surrounding male homosexuality can actually be settled by science alone. In the first section of the paper, we introduce a number of essentialist and constructivist views on (male) homosexuality. The second section focuses on the innateness debate over homosexuality. In the last section we assess the typically constructivist critiques of biological research into homosexuality.
Lemeire, O. (2014), Soortgelijke stoornissen. Over nut en validiteit van classificatie in de psychiatrie. Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 76(2), 217-246. (Full text here, this text won the 2013 Van Helsdingen prize, more information here)
This is a Dutch article on the validity and naturalness of psychiatric disorders as classified by the current DSM-5. Firstly, I consider different conceptions of validity in the literature, and define diagnostic validity as ‘picking out a natural kind’. Secondly, I discuss two broad views of natural kinds, namely essentialism and pragmatism, and reject both. A conception of natural kinds as causal-epistemic kinds is defended that goes beyond the essentialism/pragmatism dichotomy. In the final section, it is argued that the multidimensional complexity of psychiatric disorders does not preclude the possibility that they are natural kinds, but that pragmatic considerations in favor of finding a single classification system that is useful for researchers and for clinicians has resulted in the current DSM not optimally tracing causal-epistemic kinds.
De Block, A. & Lemeire, O. (2014), Homofobie en vooroordeel: een wetenschapsfilosofische evaluatie van recent sociaalpsychologisch onderzoek naar homonegativiteit. Tijdschrift voor Seksuologie, 38(3), 105-113. (Full text here)
This is a Dutch article in which we discuss recent social-psychological research into the relation between attitudes toward homosexuality and so-called essentialist beliefs about homosexuality. We summarize the main results of this research, focusing on the explanations that have been given for the findings. The second part of the paper criticizes some of the assumptions of the discussed research. We provide reasons for doubting whether the studies actually show what they claim to show.
De Block, A. & Lemeire, O. (2016), The co-evolution of nativist beliefs and tolerant attitudes. [Commentary on “Moral beliefs about homosexuality: Testing a cultural evolutionary hypothesis,” by L. Newson & P. Richerson]. Association for the Study of (Ethical Behavior)(Evolutionary Biology) in Literature, 12(1), 27-29. (Full text here)