Dartmouth Events

Andrew McFarland, City University of New York

This talk is generously supported by the Rockefeller Center, the Ethics Institute, and the Department of Philosophy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023
3:30pm – 5:30pm
Class of 1930 Room, Rockefeller Center
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Arts and Sciences, Lectures & Seminars

Andrew McFarland, City University of New York

Wednesday, October 25 
3:30 p.m.
Rockefeller 106 Class of 1930 room
Free and open to all

Talk title: Classification and the Hierarchy Thesis Revisited

Abstract: The Hierarchy Thesis, the view that natural kinds form a hierarchy, has witnessed a barrage of criticism over the years. In this talk, I argue that issues surrounding the practice of hierarchical classification require more nuance than is currently reflected in the literature. To begin, I give an overview of several logically distinct hierarchical theses and argue that the proposed counterexamples are actually consistent with one version of it. Next, I discuss several examples of classificatory practices from various disciplines including chemistry, biology, and computer/information science. I'll argue that the lesson to take from these examples is that we ought to be pluralists with respect to hierarchical classification. There are some occasions in which hierarchical classification is warranted, while other situations in which classificatory overlap is crucial. However, I want to urge caution regarding unrestricted overlap in our classificatory models. Doing so can lead to inconsistencies and this suggests constraining when we permit allowing our classifications to crosscut one another.

Andrew McFarland is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York.

For more information, contact:
Prof. Esther Rosario

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.