The Ontology of Interactive Kinds


  • Rico Hauswald Dresden University,


looping effects, interactive kinds, social scientific classifications, Ian Hacking, causal property cluster theory


This paper defends the notions of an interactive kind and a looping effect as features of social and human scientific classifications and aims to give a realist interpretation of them. I argue that interactive kinds can best be modeled as a special case of changing causal property cluster kinds. In order to do so, I develop a typology of looping effects according to the sort of entities that are affected, the main types of which are individual-looping, category-looping, and kind-looping. Based on this distinction, I identify interactive kinds as those causal property cluster kinds that are subjected to kind-looping.


American Psychiatric Association (ed.) (2000): Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th Edition Revised. DSM-IV-TR. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

American Psychiatric Association (2013): Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Becker, H. S. (1963): Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: The Free Press.

Berreby, D. (2005): Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind. New York: Little, Brown.

Boyd, R. (1991): “Realism, Anti-Foundationalism and the Enthusiasm for Natural Kinds”. In: Philosophical Studies 61. No. 1/2, p. 127–148.

Boyd, R. (1999): “Kinds as the ‘Workmanship of Men’: Realism, Constructivism, and Natural Kinds”. In: J. Nida-Rümelin (Ed.): Rationality, Realism, Revision. Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 52–89.

Boyd, R. (2010): “Realism, Natural Kinds, and Philosophical Methods”. In: H. Beebee and N. Sabbarton-Leary (Eds.): The Semantics and Metaphysics of Natural Kinds. New York: Routledge, p. 212–234.

Cartwright, N. (1983): How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Cooper, R. (2004): “Why Hacking is Wrong about Human Kinds”. In: British Journal of Philosophy Science 55. No. 1, p. 73–85.

Dupré, J. (2002): Humans and Other Animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Gilbert, M. (1989): On Social Facts. London: Routledge.

Griffiths, P. E. (1997): What Emotions Really Are. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hacking, I. (1991a): “A Tradition of Natural Kinds”. In: Philosophical Studies 61. No. 1/2, p. 109–126.

Hacking, I. (1991b): “On Boyd”. In: Philosophical Studies 61. No. 1/2, p. 149–154.

Hacking, I. (1995): “The Looping Effect of Human Kinds”. In: D. Sperber, D. Premack, and A.J. Premack (Eds.): Causal Cognition: A Multidisciplinary Debate. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 351–383.

Hacking, I. (1998): Mad Travellers, Reflections on the Reality of Transient Illnesses. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia.

Hacking, I. (1999): The Social Construction of What? Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Hacking, I. (2002): Historical Ontology. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Hacking, I. (2006): “Types De Gens, Des Cibles Mouvantes”., visited on 16 October 2015.

Hacking, I. (2007a): “Kinds of People: Moving Targets”. In: Proceedings of the British Academy 151. p. 285–318.

Hacking, I. (2007b): “Natural Kinds: Rosy Dawn, Scholastic Twilight”. In: Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 61. p. 203–239.

Hauswald, R. (2014): Soziale Pluralitäten. Zur Ontologie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Semantik des Klassifizierens und Gruppierens von Menschen in Gesellschaft und Humanwissenschaft. Münster: mentis.

Hawley, K and Bird, A. (2011): “What are Natural Kinds?”. In: Philosophical Perspectives 25. No. 1, p. 205–221.

Hirschfeld, L. A. (1996): Race in the making: Cognition, Culture, and the Child’s Construction of Human Kinds. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Khalidi, M. (2010): “Interactive Kinds”, British Journal of Philosophy Science 61. No. 2, p. 335–360.

Kornblith, H. (1993): Inductive Inference and Its Natural Ground. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Kuorikoski, J and Pöyhönen, S. (2012): “Looping Kinds and Social Mechanisms”. In: Sociological Theory 30. No. 3, p. 187–205.

Latour, B. (2000): “On the Partial Existence of Existing and Non-existing Objects”. In: L. Daston (Ed.): Biographies of Scientific Objects. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 247–269.

Ludwig, K. (2014): “The Ontology of Collective Action”. In: S.R. Chant, F. Hindriks, and G. Preyer (Eds.): From Individual to Collective Intentionality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 112–133.

Mallon, R. (2003): “Social Construction, Social Roles, and Stability”. In: F. Schmitt (Ed.): Socializing Metaphysics: The Nature of Social Reality. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, p. 327–354.

McNally, R. J. (2011): What is Mental Illness? Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Mill, J. S. (1843/1973): A System of Logic. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Murphy, D. (2006): Psychiatry in the Scientific Image. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Pinkal, M. (1995): Logic and Lexicon: The Semantics of the Indefinite. Dordrecht: Springer.

Tekin, S. (2014): “The Missing Self in Hacking’s Looping Effects”. In: H. Kincaid and J. Sullivan (Eds.): Classifying Psychopathology: Mental Kinds and Natural Kinds. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, p. 227–256.

Tilly, C. (1978): From Mobilization to Revolution. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tsou, J. (2007): “Hacking on the Looping Effects of Psychiatric Classifications: What Is an Interactive and Indifferent Kind?”. In: International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21. No. 3, p. 325–340.

Whewell, W. (1860/1971): On the Philosophy of Discovery. New York: Franklin.

Williams, A. (2015): Forensic Criminology. New York: Routledge.

Young, I. M. (1994): “Gender as Seriality: Thinking about Women as a Social Collective”. In: Signs Journal of Women in Culture and Society 19. No. 3, p. 713–738.




How to Cite

Hauswald, Rico. 2016. “The Ontology of Interactive Kinds”. Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2). Vienna, Austria:203-21.



Special Section: Social Kinds