Francesco Guala: Clusters, correlations, and kinds
A prominent philosophical tradition identifies kinds with clusters of properties that make reliable inductive inferences possible. The property clusters account, however, is still underdeveloped. As a general theory, it fails to account for cases that should – according to its own criteria – fall within its own domain. The reason, in a nutshell, is that correlations between properties explain inductive success, but correlations do not require that properties are clustered. There are different types of correlations, and this implies that there are also different types of kinds. Those kinds that are not best described as property clusters are at least as interesting and useful, from a scientific point of view, than those that are.
Francesco Guala is a philosopher and experimental economist interested primarily in the foundations and methodology of social science. He teaches at the University of Milan, where he is Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Philosophy and director of the PhD programme ‘The Human Mind and Its Explanations’.