Catherine Kendig

305 South Kedzie Hall
368 Farm Ln
East Lansing, MI 48824


Associate Professor
Philosophy of Biology; Philosophy and History of Science; Metaphysics

ORCID: 0000-0001-8865-2924

Curriculum Vitae


Areas of Research 

AOS: Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy and History of Science, Metaphysics

AOC: Philosophy of New and Emerging Technologies (especially of Synthetic Biology and Agriculture), Philosophy of Race, Philosophy of Ethnobiology

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. Her current research concentrates on (1) philosophical analyses of the notions of proof-of-concept and identity in synthetic biology; (2) ethnobiological kind-making practices and indigenous botanical nomenclatures; and (3) the development of epistemic standards in engineering and agriculture.

Kendig is editor of the collection of interdisciplinary essays Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice (2016 Routledge) which explores the role of kind-making or ‘kinding’ in the work of scientists. She serves as Associate Editor of the journal History & Philosophy of the Life Sciences, and as Co-Editor (with Lydia Patton and Alan Richardson) of the series “History of Philosophy and Science” (De Gruyter). She was elected to the Committee for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science; serves on the Organizing Committee of the International Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice; and board representative to the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering. She was also contributor to the U.K. Nuffield Council on Bioethics International Report on Genome Editing.

Kendig earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Exeter/ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society and her MSc in Philosophy and History of Science at King’s College London. Before joining Michigan State University, she was Lecturer/Teaching Fellow in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London, and Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Missouri Western State University. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

5-minute Fellows: Catherine Kendig


Google Scholar:


Genome Consortium for Active Teaching-Synthetic Biology (GCAT-SynBio):


PHL 101 Introduction to Philosophy

PHL 380 Nature of Science

PHL 480 Philosophy of Science

PHL 880 Seminar in Philosophy of Science: Natural Kinds, Hybrid Beings, and Homology


Kendig, Catherine (2022). “Metaphysical presumptions about species stability: problematic and unavoidable”. In John S. Wilkins, Frank E. Zachos, and Igor Ya. Pavlinov (eds.) Species Problems and Beyond: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice. Boca Raton: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.

Bursten, Julia and Catherine Kendig (2021). “Growing Knowledge: Epistemic Objects in Agricultural Extension Work”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 88: 85-91.

Kendig, Catherine and Wenda K. Bauchspies (2021). “The Ethics of Speculative Anticipation and the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Hypatia 36(1): 228-236.

Kendig, Catherine (2020). “Ontology and values anchor indigenous and grey nomenclatures: a case study in lichen naming practices among the Sámi, Sherpa, Scots, and Okanagan”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 84 (101340): 1-11.

Kendig, Catherine and Joeri Witteveen (2020). “History and Philosophy of Taxonomy as an Information Science”. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42: 40-51.

Ferkany, Matt and Catherine Kendig (2020). “Countering scientism and skepticism in teaching the nature of science through its virtues”. In Wayne Melville and Donald Kerr (eds.) Virtues as Integral to Science Education: Understanding the Intellectual, Moral, and Civic Value of Science and Scientific Inquiry. New York & London: Routledge, pp. 83-101.

Kendig, Catherine and John Grey (2019/2021). “Can the epistemic value of natural kinds be explained independently of their metaphysics?” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2): 359-376.

Kendig, Catherine and Bryan A. Bartley (2019). “Synthetic kinds: kind-making in synthetic biology.” In Julia R. S. Bursten (ed.) Perspectives on Classification in Synthetic Sciences: Unnatural Kinds. London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 78-96.

Kendig, Catherine (2018). “Considering the role marked variation plays in classifying humans: a normative approach.” Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10(13): 1-15.

Kendig, Catherine (2018). “Grounding knowledge and normative valuation in agent-based action and scientific commitment”. In Hauke Riesch, Nathan Emmerich & Steven Wainwright (eds.) Philosophies and Sociologies of Bioethics: Crossing the Divides. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, pp. 41-64.

Kendig, Catherine and Eckdahl, Todd T. (2017). “Reengineering metaphysics: modularity, parthood, and evolvability in metabolic engineering”. Special issue: Ontologies of Living Beings (A.M. Ferner and Thomas Pradeu, eds.)Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9(8): 1-21.

Kendig, Catherine (ed.) (2016) Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 1-247.

Kendig, Catherine (2016). “Homologizing as kinding”. In Catherine Kendig (ed.) Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 106-125.

Kendig, Catherine (2016). “Activities of kinding in scientific practice” In Catherine Kendig (ed.) Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 1-13.

Kendig, Catherine (2016). “What is proof of concept research and how does it generate epistemic and ethical categories for future scientific practice?” Science and Engineering Ethics 22(3), 735-753.

Kendig, Catherine (2014). “Synthetic Biology and Biofuels.” In Paul B. Thompson and David M. Kaplan (eds.),Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. Dordrecht: Springer, 1695-1703.

Kendig, Catherine (2014). “Hybridity in Agriculture.” In Paul B. Thompson and David M. Kaplan (eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. Dordrecht: Springer, 1210-1218.

Kendig, Catherine (2014). “Towards a Multidimensional Metaconception of Species.” Ratio 27 (2): 155–172.

Kendig, Catherine (2013). “Integrating History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences in Practice to Enhance Science Education: Swammerdam’s Historia Insectorum Generalis and the case of the water flea.” Science & Education22(8): 1939-1961.

Kendig, Catherine, Swindler, Joshua*, and Anderson, Austin* (2012). “Bringing History and Philosophy of Biology into the Lab.” Bioscene 38(2): 36-42. [* denotes undergraduate contributors]

Kendig, Catherine (2011). “Race as a Physiosocial Phenomenon.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33(2): 191–222.
[Awarded Honorable Mention for the American Philosophical Association 2012 Article Prize]

Kendig, Catherine (2011). “Debates in Philosophy of Biology: One Long Argument, or Many?” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25(1): 73–81.

Book reviews

Kendig, Catherine (2018). “Review of Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Perspectives, Scott Lidgard and Lynn K. Nyhart (eds).” HOPOS:  The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (2): 475-480.

Kendig, Catherine (2015) “Review of The Nature of Classification by John S. Wilkins and Malte C. Ebach.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (4): 477-479.

Kendig, Catherine (2012). “Review of The Species Problem by Richard Richards.” The Philosophical Quarterly 62(2): 405–408.

University News

College Welcomes New Faculty
Published September 9, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
side of a building
This fall, the College of Arts & Letters welcomes many new faculty members, including 11 who are either tenured or in the tenure system. Those faculty members include: Cara…Read now »