Hilary Putnam's Argument On Three Different Versions Of Natural Kinds

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If you look a word up online there is a possibility that you could wind up finding about three different versions of the word, and that doesn’t even include the slang versions of a word. Imagine we found another world with similar substances as there are on Earth, but they all had different names. This could potentially create a barrier in communication. Hilary Putnam thought he could solve an issue like this by creating what he called natural kind terms. Even if you can buy into Putnam’s theory, as time evolves, our changing linguistic communities may reject natural kinds in favor of their own terminology.
Before we can understand what natural kinds are, Putnam offers a thought experiment that sets up his argument on natural kinds. Imagine that there are two earths, Earth and Twin Earth. On Twin Earth there are people who look, think, and feel exactly the same way their duplicate does on earth. Now imagine that on both worlds the term ‘water’ referred to a liquid that falls from the skies, fills rivers, falls into oceans, and is capable of being consumed. On Earth the liquid would have a chemical makeup of H2O, but on Twin Earth the chemical makeup would consist of XYZ (that is not equivalent to H2O). Although we would refer to them both in the same way, compositionally, they are made up of different chemical compounds. The issue lies in the fact that we can refer to H2O
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However it doesn’t take long to realize that the theory offers a very limited and far stretched way of viewing the defining of terms. Not only does Putnam’s theory fail to measure up to the requirements a linguistic community has, but it does a very poor job of offering a structured way of knowing where the line is drawn as to what a natural kind term even is. Overall his theory fails to measure up when put the task of defining even the most basic of terms, and continues to remain vague at

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