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Catherine Kendig (Michigan State University)
Catherine Kendig (Michigan State University)

Tue, 21 Mar


Online Lecture

Catherine Kendig (Michigan State University)

Catherine Kendig is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University. Her research explores the normative and metaphysical commitments underlying scientific classifications and natural and synthetic kinds broadly construed.


21 Mar 2023, 16:00 – 18:00 CET

Online Lecture



Plant parts, agricultural kinds, and ways of making things real


Both empirically based investigations and analytic metaphysics provide windows through which the world becomes known. What I ask, and attempt to answer, is, how does what we know depend on what we think is out there in the world and how do these conceptual commitments inform and shape our research endeavors? Many argue that the world constrains the categories scientists can use in their investigations of it. This constraint is often voiced in the sentiment that the world pushes back.

I begin by providing a frame within which to consider what it means to be in a world that pushes back, exploring the role of conceptual commitment in ontologizing practices which are prerequisite for other ontologizing activities like partitioning and kinding. I then examine three cases where conceptual commitments have reshaped ontologies: 1) Agnes Arber’s developmental extension of Goethe’s LEAF, ROOT, STEM model; 2) Lichen part-whole relationships following Simon Schwendener’s original dual theory of lichens; and 3) Equipment-shaped agriculture experiments from the Tuskegee Agricultural Experimental Station.

Zoom meeting ID: 614 8076 0079

Zoom passcode: CEN23

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