The Institute of Philosophy of the Research Centre for the Humanities cordially invites everybody to the upcoming talk by Elay Shech (Auburn University, Department of Philosophy) entitled Are Mesoscale Structures Natural Kinds? Reconsidering Batterman’s Middle Way. The talk will be given in English. We welcome both in-person and online attendees.


Robert W. Batterman’s recent book, A Middle Way: A Non-Fundamental Approach to Many-Body Physics, presents a methodology for studying many-body systems in contexts such as physics, materials science and engineering, and biological modelling. The book’s main thesis consists of claims to the effect that said methodology (i) is superior to alternatives, (ii) solves an important autonomy-robustness problem, and, consequently, (iii) implies that certain mesoscale structures ought to be considered natural kinds: “…there are theoretical, scientific reasons for treating the mesoscale [structures] as, in a rather strong sense, among those that should be considered natural kinds” (25). My goal is to assess the plausibility of, and understand exactly what is meant by, claim (iii) about natural kinds. I will consider and evaluated various interpretations including (what I call) the novel prediction (NP) interpretation, the enhanced indispensability argument (EIA) interpretation, the fundamentality interpretation, and the autonomy interpretation. I argue that the feasibility of the NP and EIA interpretation ultimately depends on the viability of rejecting reductionistic in-principle derivations, and there is a disconnect between the NP and EIA interpretations Batterman’s understanding of natural kinds as “carving nature at its joints.” Thus, I suggest that the fundamentality interpretation is most attainable. Arguably, the autonomy interpretation is most suggested by A Middle Way but I argue that the autonomy interpretation fails to imply (iii).

Time: Tuesday, 8 August, 2023, 14h / 2PM (CET)

Venue: Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of Philosophy, 4 Tóth Kálmán street, Budapest, 7th floor, lecture room B.7.16

Attendees can also join online using the link below: