Promiscuous kinds and individual minds


Natural kinds
Psychological explanation

How to Cite

Corns, J. (2023). Promiscuous kinds and individual minds. Philosophy and the Mind Sciences, 4.


Promiscuous realism is the thesis that there are many equally legitimate ways of classifying the world’s entities. Advocates of promiscuous realism are typically taken to hold the further the- sis, often undistinguished, that kind terms usefully deployed in scientific generalisations are no more natural than those deployed for any other purposes. Call this further thesis promiscuous nat- uralism. I here defend a version of promiscuous realism which denies promiscuous naturalism. To do so, I introduce the notion of a promiscuous kind: a kind that is maximally usefully referenced in predictive and explanatory generalisations, none of which are scientific generalisations. I first defend the claim that pain is a promiscuous kind before extending these considerations to everyday mental kinds more generally. I draw on further reflections from both everyday life and contem- porary psychology to make credible the novel suggestion that our everyday theory of our minds is for the explanation and prediction of individuals. Combined with the complex idiosyncrasy of individual minds, this suggested aim of everyday theory gives us reason to think that promiscuity is prevalent among everyday mental kinds.


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