Another quaff of realism 
In a recent entry, I discussed the possibilities for realist pluralism. This is the position that there are many real kinds out in nature, not just the priveleged short list of kinds that appears in our fundamental science. I asked how promiscuous this position ought to be: Should we say that silly, toy-example kinds like 'liz' and 'ard' are as real as important-to-us kinds like 'electron', 'gene', and 'seasoning'?

In the comments, Matt suggests a way that a realist pluralist could deny kinds toy-example kinds. Here is what he said:
[R]eal kinds are the ones that we get as a product of actual inquiries. Useless dreams [like liz and ard] may be hypothetical but not real kinds. This still allows for some promiscuity (because biologists, cooks, common sense, etc. may have different purposes/problems and come to different conclusions) without allowing in all the useless stuff.
Something similar was suggested to me by Dick Boyd at the last PSA. I think it faces a dilemma.

Either the kinds must appear in inquiry that we have actually done, or it need only appear in enquiry that we could do. Consider each horn of the dilemma:

Real kinds are ones that appear in inquiry that some person has actually conducted. A consequence of this would be that a kind like 'electron' was not a real kind in 1800; it became a real kind only when electrons were discovered. This is at least an odd way of speaking. The fact that they could be discovered suggests that they were already real. One could say that electrons were real in 1800, but that the kind electron was not real until it was first formulated.

Matt explicitly aligns himself with Dewey, and I suspect that Dewey would just accept this oddity. He says that America changed when Vikings discovered it, just by virtue of being known to the Vikings. So, he might also say, there is a change in electrons when scientists first discover them-- they first constitute a real kind.

Real kinds are ones that appear in inquiry that could be conducted. Suppose there were rich patrons of science who adored the front ends of lizards but loathed their back ends, and imagine the science they would fund. This is a counter-factual inquiry in which 'liz' and 'ard' appear as kinds.

As a philosopher, I have cultivated the talent of imagining bizarre counter-factual scenarios. There is no kind so trivial that I cannot imagine a science in which it appears. So the second horn of the dilemma reduces the criterion to triviality, and every kind counts as real.

So: Oddity or triviality? Which will it be?

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Time, time, time... see what's become of me.

Last week I revised my paper on four-dimensionalism and sent it off to another journal. Although it is not the cleverest thing I have ever written, I would like to see it published. It has the coolest pictures of any paper I have ever done, even cooler than the pictures for my other paper on the topology of spacetime.

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Cat and Girl in the echo chamber 
Dorothy uses the phrase 'pink collar worker' in today's Cat&Girl. Below the comic, she comments:
Did you know that the New York Times segregated its help wanted section by gender until 1972? That may or may not be true. Thanks, Wikipedia!
Yet, compare the Wikipedia entry for pink collar. It says merely that the NY Times stopped running gender-specific help-wanted ads in 1972. It does not say when gender-neutral want help-wanted ads were first permitted. There may have been a time when help-wanted ads were not wholly segregated, but during which some ads were gender selecting.

So, I basically know nothing about the substantive issue of gender selection and job adverts. I do have another anecdote as to how the Wikipedia is akin to gossip, however.

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Six degrees of separation 
Acquiring a finite Erdős number was icing on the cake when I coauthored with Craig Callender a few years back. Now, by way of the MathSciNet Collaboration Calculator, I have been able to confirm that my finite Erdős number is at most 6.
Erdős (0) coauthored with Ernst Gabor Straus (1), who coauthored with Peter Gabriel Bergmann (2), who coauthored with Gerrit J. Smith (3), who coauthored with Robert Weingard (4), who coauthored with Craig Callender (5), who coauthored with me (6).

Since Bergmann coauthored with Albert Einstein, it puts me only five steps away from Albert. In an unrelated statistic, Einstein was the first scientist that came to mind for 9 out of 20 students in my Understanding Science class yesterday when I asked them to think of a scientist.

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'Words are curious things' redux 
Stijn writes a blog entry about the meaning of 'philosophy' and links to a sarcastic post that I wrote on the subject. I noticed the link, followed it back, saw that he quoted me, and wondered as to the context. Turning to Babelfish for a translation, I got the following:
If philosophy is the answer on the question what you study, the response is at the person asking the question generally of stupefaction. Followed by or "what is that for something?", or "what will do you with that?". In a joke this is as follows reflected: When I my grandmother answered told that I doctor in philosophy became, them: "terribly, but what kind of a sickness is philosophy actual?"

If people the word knows philosophy already, it is frequently in the meaning which is indicated by Van Dale online ones: relativising, contemplative. We have to that thank meaning probably to the philosophy of Epicurus and the stocijnen, with their philosophy as life wisdom.

Don't we don't have make urgently work of a more general term of what philosophy are? Or we must use the meaning also at academic level and, such as P.D. Magnus presents on its blog, our thesis conclude with the philosophical attitude:

"I mean, like, it sucks, basically, but it happened to me and I'm still alive."
Why, yes... all my base does belong to them. How nice of you to notice.

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