Philosophy Week Two Discussion
Respond to one of these prompts and be clear about which one you are referring to:
PROMPT #1: NATURAL KINDS: What, if anything, makes a natural kind a kind as opposed to some other natural grouping? John Stuart Mill (1843: 122–3) noted that horses formed a natural kind but white things do not. Mill’s point is that, natural similarity among white things notwithstanding, leukocytes, chalks, white vans, clouds, comets, and degenerate (white) dwarf stars are too diverse a group to form a natural kind. Given this position, are there any genuine natural kinds? Explain your answer.
PROMPT #2: ONTOLOGY OF ARTIFACTS. Do you believe that human intentionality can bring new things into existence? Explain your answer.
PROMPT #3: PATENTING OF DNA. Do you think that human DNA should be patented? Explain your answer.
PROMPT #4: PARADOX OF CONSTITUTION. Consider the following argument: “The puzzles about ‘identity over time’ seem to be puzzles not about anything’s identity but about what principles of unity we do or should use to divide up the world into whole enduring individuals — about how we do use words or about how it would be best to use words. That these examples do not pose genuine problems about anything’s identity is apparent from the fact that we understand the situations described in these examples completely; we all agree on what happened according to each example; no one is left confused about anything except what to say. but genuine problems of identity leave one confused about what to think, not merely about what to say” (Ruth Millikan). Do you agree with the author’s point that the paradox of constitution is merely a verbal problem? Explain your answer.
PROMPT #5: IDENTITY OVER TIME. What, if anything, does the paradox of constitution tell us about the identity of things and persons over time? Is four-dimensionalism about identity over time a plausible view? Can you think of any ethical or legal consequences four-dimensionalism about identity over time might have?