2008 | 17 | 4(68) | 249-263
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Mass and Count Natural Kind Terms

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Between count and mass terms there are syntactic, semantic and pragmatic differences. Although the differences of each kind can be put into question, the distinction between count and mass terms is unquestionable. In particular, it is not obliterated by the fact that mass terms can be used as count terms (and vice versa). Quine thought that the count term - mass term distinction is very important and can be noticed in the process of learning the language. Count terms are harder to learn because they involve divided reference. On the other hand - according to Quine - mass terms are protean in character: at the subject position they function as singular terms whereas at the predicate position they are general terms. As far as natural kinds are concerned, Quine argued that they are intuitive nominal kinds and claimed that humans have many different systems of classification into kinds adequate for different purposes. Kripke and Putnam are mostly interested in natural kinds and natural kind terms, but do not pay any attention to the distinction between count- and mass natural-kind-terms. Their natural kinds are real kinds, whose extensions are delimited by 'hidden natures'. The authoress argues that the notion of natural kind used by Kripke and Putnam is more philosophically interesting than that of Quine and that Quinean idea of many equally good classifications into kinds is mistaken. On the other hand, it seems that Kripke's and Putnam's analysis of natural kind terms should take into account the count term - mass term distinction. Such a distinction allows to explain the differences between Kripkean theoretical identifications and makes the solution of Johnston's problem easier.
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  • J. Odrowaz-Sypniewska, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Instytut Filozofii, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 3, 00-047 Warszawa, Poland
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