Uninstantiated possibles?

If we projected a taxonomy of nature such that we gave not only an account of explanation (explanation would to take place presupposing taxonomy), unity and plurality in theoretical entities; could we invoke non-existent entities as possible?

Let me give an examples; an example of a taxonomy would be something like the periodic table; or zoological genus-species relations. Could I conceive of a possible creature that fills a space in our taxonomy; say, its of the family which tigers are in; it is like a tiger in lots of respects, but different in one or two, lets call them Tiger’. Tiger’ doesn’t exist, lets say we have a map of its possible genome, we have a map of all sorts of features to the highest degree of accuracy and finesse in the taxonomy, but it doesn’t exist. is it possible?

One question to ask is what does possible mean?; A taxonomy account would need to have a notion of modality. Given that this notion of taxonomy comes from Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations; the condition of being any scientific object at all needs to fulfill the (relatively harmless) proviso of being an object of possible experience. So, if we can fill it out in the taxonomy, that makes it a possible object; is that an answer to the question? I am not so sure; possibility is cashed out in a very odd way. This is a wider issue of what Kant’s modality notions are, but also I wonder; can a taxonomy account fit into say, an essentialist view of modality? Kripke, for instance, believes that the genetic ancestry, and baptism of a thing is what defines it; but I never really bought that…

Michael (and Sinistre*)


One thought on “Uninstantiated possibles?

  1. I’ve come across the suggestion that Kant may be furnished by an account of modality more akin to the likes of Fine; although my personal view is that with some theoretical entities (while we are on the subject of modal theories), we should talk of some entities as fictional…but that’s a red herring suggestion


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