Natural kinds are categories whose superficial distinguishing characteristics are tied together or explained by deeper causal mechanisms. Treating a category as a natural-kind category requires giving priority to more fundamental properties when deciding membership and recognizing a ‘promissory note’ for a deeper explanation, even if none is currently known. Although young children can form and use categories that happen to be natural-kind categories, they cannot treat them as such until after age 4.I describe a number of related shifts – in inferences about hierarchically-related classes, in causal reasoning, and in the child’s understanding of mind – and propose an explanation of all of these shifts as transitions from the first to the second interactive knowing level. I then consider the ability of some other developmental frameworks to give a coherent account of such changes.

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