Contents may settle during shipping 
Matt asks about the contents of the recently released New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Amazon has a preview for other books in the series, but not this one yet. I'm sure it will in due time, but here's the list of contributions anyway:

1. Juha Saatsi, Form vs. Content-driven Arguments for Realism
2. Sherri Roush, Optimism about the Pessimistic Induction
3. Anjan Chakravartty, Metaphysics Between the Sciences and Philosophies of Science
4. Jessica Pfeifer, Nominalism and Inductive Generalizations
5. Otavio Bueno, Models and Scientific Representations
6. Greg Frost-Arnold and P.D. Magnus, The Identical Rivals Response to Underdetermination
7. Laura Perini, Scientific Representation and the Semiotics of Pictures
8. Jay Odenbaugh, Philosophy of the Environmental Sciences
9. Justin Biddle and Eric Winsberg, Value Judgments and the Estimation of Uncertainty in Climate Modeling
10. Kristen Intemann, Feminist Standpoint Empiricism: Rethinking the Terrain in Feminist Philosophy of Science
11. Daniel Steel, Naturalism and the Enlightenment Ideal: Rethinking a Central Debate in the Philosophy of Social Science
12. Michael Weisberg, New Approaches to the Division of Cognitive Labor

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Book and Pitt 
Two brief items of note.

1. New Waves in Philosophy of Science, a volume of new essays that I coedited with Jacob Busch, has now been published. The link is to the Amazon page.

2. I've been invited to be a visiting fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science in Pittsburgh, next Fall while I'm on sabbatical. This invitation did not come out of the blue - I applied - but it's still pretty exciting.

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It's only a question 
[A couple of months ago, I was invited to join the giant group blog It's Only a Theory. This post is the first one since then that's been suitable for that venue, so I've cross posted.]

Although there is not consensus about what would make a natural kind natural, most traditional views agree that naturalness is a monadic feature; ie, "K is a natural kind" can be true or false of a given kind without specifying any further parameters. Call this the monadic presumption.

A few philosophers of science have denied this assumption and insisted that a kind is only a natural kind relative to a specified enquiry; ie, it's a relation of the form "K is a natural kind for E." (Proposals of this kind have been made by Dupre and Boyd.)

Consider an example like 'race.' There is no essential biological difference between members of different races, and so it may be tempting to say that race is not a natural kind. This flatfooted conclusion that race is not a natural kind only makes sense given the monadic presumption. On the relational conception, all that follows is that race is not a natural kind for biology.

A sociologist trying to understand social stratification and discrimination in the US South (for example) might need to recognize race, at least in some form. If so, then race would be a natural kind for that sociological enquiry.

It's tempting to say that race is not a natural kind because we want to deny the bogus rationale for discrimination. Recognizing race as a natural kind for sociology doesn't undercut that, however, since the sociologist's 'race' category couldn't justify the practices that it is used to explain.

To take a different example, biological kinds will not be natural kinds for particle physics - but they are nevertheless natural kinds for appropriately specified enquiries.

Although Dupre proposed a relativized conception of natural kinds over twenty years ago, the monadic presumption is still alive; eg, Bird and Tobin, in the SEP entry on Natural Kinds, simply presume it.

What I'm wondering is whether you, reader of this blog, consider the monadic presumption to be the default view of natural kinds. How heterodox is the relativized conception? Do you even consider the relativized conception when you think about natural kinds?

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2009 in review 
Here's the annual bullet-point summary of my blogging for 2009. The crude algorithm takes the first sentence from the first post of every month; cf. 2006, 2007, and 2008.

I. Via daring fireball and makkintosshu, I learned that the URL http://www.apple.com/hypercard now redirects to the Wikipedia entry for Hypercard.

II. Today I got the student comment forms from my teaching last Fall. Again I asked students about the textbook I wrote for intro logic.

III. Some people have suggested to me that I should try my hand at writing some newspaper op-ed pieces.

IV: A few weeks ago, I participated in a workshop on underdetermination at the Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science.

V: I was at Cornell last weekend for the Berkeley Bonanza, organized by Andrew Chignell and Melissa Frankel.

VI: I uploaded the first new version of forall x in over a year.

VII: In these two related items, Wikipedian prose appears in print...

VIII: I have always thought that the Swampman thought experiment is analytic philosophy at its worst.

IX: When I have teach logic to one or two hundred students, the class is in one the university's lecture centers.

X: Thus concludes year four of the blog.

XI: Suppose I wake up one morning and find that I believe something (call it Q) that I had not believed before.

XII: Christy Mag Uidhir and I coauthored a paper on art concept pluralism.

Mostly teaching, philosophy conferences, and Wikipedia.

I managed to keep my resolution to have at least one post in every month, although September and November came down to the wire.

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How to be a pluralist about art 
Christy Mag Uidhir and I coauthored a paper on art concept pluralism. It's now forthcoming in Metaphilosophy. Although their backlog of papers means that it won't be in print for over a year, I have posted a preprint.

Link: Art Concept Pluralism

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